Bangalore: Madhya Pradesh, not considered among cricketing elites during the past decade, created history Sunday as they won their maiden Ranji Trophy title defeating 41-time champions Mumbai by six wickets. In the process Madhya Pradesh exorcised the ghosts of losing a final at this very ground 23 summers ago. It was the game where present coach Chandrakant Pandit had represented Madhya Pradesh as a professional even though he is originally from Mumbai.
On the final day, Mumbai could only manage 269 in their second innings, leaving MP with a paltry target of 108, and they did it in style as Pandit won a record sixth national title as a coach.
Sarfaraz Khan (45), who finished the season with 18 short of 1,000 runs and young Suved Parkar (51) tried their bit, but with the need to attack at every opportunity, MP’s Kumar Kartikeya (4/98) and the other bowlers knew that wickets would come their way.
As Madhya Pradesh completed the victory, Pandit was flooded with memories (not happy ones), which he hasn’t been able to erase for over two decades and despite winning five trophies as a coach.
It was here at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in the summer of 1999 when MP, despite a first-innings lead of 75, failed to win the game as Pandit, a proud captain, finished his playing career in tears.
The Yash Dubeys, Himanshu Mantris, Subham Sharmas, Gourav Yadavs or Saransh Jains aren’t players who would give you the feeling that they are India prospects, the classy Rajat Patidar being an exception. But they gave enough indication that they aren’t ready to concede even a micro-millimetre without a good scrap.
MP’s win once again proved that the Ranji Trophy is often won by sides that don’t have too many superstars or India prospects with ambition or wherewithal to play top-flight cricket. They followed Pandit’s ‘Gurukul’ style of ‘My Way or HighWay’ coaching philosophy to emerge triumphant.
Since 2010, the Ranji Trophy, barring Karnataka’s dominance for a few seasons and Mumbai winning it once, the title has been won by teams like Rajasthan (twice), Vidarbha (twice), Saurashtra (once) and Madhya Pradesh, who would never be in contention in the past.
Yet the season, Madhya Pradesh overcame teams like Bengal in the semifinals and then Mumbai in the final. Not only did they win in the final, Madhya Pradesh dominated the game for the better part of the match. And they were deserved winners.
Brief scores: Mumbai 374 and 269 (Suved Parker 51, Kumar Kartikeya 4/98) lost to Madhya Pradesh 536 and 108 for 4 (Himanshu Mantri 37, Rajat Patidar 30 n o, Shubham Sharma 30, Shams Mulani 3/41) by six wickets.