Parthiv steers Gujarat to maiden Ranji triumph

After playing seven league and three knockout matches, the persevering Gujarat made history by thumping a strong Mumbai by five wickets in the final.

Jubilant Gujarat players with the Ranji Trophy. Gujarat defeated Mumbai by five wickets in the final at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on Saturday.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

For over a decade and a half, Parthiv Patel has been the face of Gujarat cricket. And quite fittingly, he scored a precious century (143: 283 minutes, 196 balls, 24x4) to script a memorable maiden Ranji Trophy victory for his team at the Holkar Stadium here on Saturday.

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Parthiv fell after a gutsy batting display for a little over four-and-a-half hours, with Gujarat just 13 runs from the winning post. Thereafter, the No. 7 batsman, Chirag Gandhi, struck two successive fours — the first through the covers and the second through the vacant space in the slip cordon — off fast bowler Shardul Thakur. Gandhi then went down on his knees and looked skyward with happiness. Non-striker Rujul Bhatt jumped for joy, as the entire Gujarat team, including the support staff, rushed out of the dressing room to celebrate a fine victory.

 

After playing seven league and three knockout matches, the persevering Gujarat made history by thumping a strong Mumbai by five wickets in the final.

Without doubt, the action on the final day revolved around Parthiv, who had staged a successful comeback to international cricket after a gap of eight years. Good luck may have been with him on a number of occasions. Like when he inside-edged shots half-a-dozen times and the ball did not crash onto the stumps, or when he survived a leg-before appeal with his score on 120 and his team 52 runs away from the fourth innings target of 312. But having carried the hopes of the team for many years, the 31-year-old brought to the fore all his experience to lead Gujarat — which was in the final of the Ranji Trophy after 66 seasons (Gujarat had lost to Holkar in Indore in the 1950-51 final) — to victory. Parthiv has now led Gujarat to victories in all senior tournaments, including the Vijay Hazare (50 overs) and the Syed Mushtaq Ali (Twenty20) in the last five years.

No team had chased a target of over 310 in a Ranji Trophy final, and when Gujarat began the final day needing 265 runs more to win, it looked like an uphill task after it was 89 for three at one stage. Thakur, Balwinder Sandhu and Abhishek Nayar provided the early breakthroughs for Mumbai. Umpire Anil Chaudhary gave a decision against Gohel, out caught behind, while replays showed his bat was nowhere near the ball.

The fall of the third wicket (Gohel) brought Gujarat’s best pair together. The fearless Manprit Juneja sent a clear message to Mumbai that he was not going to potter around despite his team being in a somewhat precarious situation. He soon got into his groove and came down heavily on Nayar and Sandhu. The way in which he played his shots (the on-drive, straight strive and cover drive) gave evidence that Juneja was watching the ball very well.

Though Parthiv was very lucky initially, he hit some lovely shots by rocking on to his back foot, driving in front of the wicket and pulling the short balls to the boundary. In short, he did not let go any scoring opportunity. Parthiv was quite comfortable against left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil.

The fourth wicket pair added 116 runs before Juneja (54: 143 minutes, 115 balls, 8x4) perished to part-time off-spinner Akhil Herwadkar. This brought Mumbai back into the game. However, its fielders let the team down, with Tare and Suryakumar Yadav putting down catches of Rujul Bhatt when Gujarat was on 247 for four and 272 for four.

Parthiv, who had hammered the Mumbai bowlers to all parts of the field, fell after he top-edged Thakur. It was truly a captain’s knock but Tare said at the prize distribution function, “Parthiv rode his luck.’’

Nonetheless, it was a display by the Gujarat skipper. He became the third captain and wicketkeeper to score a century in a Ranji Trophy final after Bombay’s Madhav Mantri and Punjab’s Pankaj Dharmani.

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CENTURIES BY CAPTAINS IN RANJI TROPHY FINAL



Score

Name

Team

Against

Venue

Season

222*

S. Wazir Ali

Southern Punjab

Bengal

Calcutta

1938/39

216

P. E. Palia

United Provinces

Maharashtra

Poona-PC

1939/40

278

V. M. Merchant

Bombay

Holkar

Bombay-B

1944/45

200

C. K. Nayudu

Holkar

Baroda

Indore-YC

1945/46

219

K. C. Ibrahim

Bombay

Baroda

Bombay-B

1948/49

152

M. K. Mantri

Bombay

Holkar

Bombay-B

1951/52

132

D. K. Gaekwad

Baroda

Services

Baroda-MB

1957/58

157

M. L. Apte

Bombay

Bengal

Bombay-B

1958/59

194

R. G. Nadkarni

Bombay

Hyderabad

Hyderabad

1964/65

109

Hanumant Singh

Rajasthan

Bombay

Bombay-B

1966/67

108*

M. S. Hardikar

Bombay

Rajasthan

Bombay-B

1966/67

213*

Hanumant Singh

Rajasthan

Bombay

Bombay-B

1966/67

133

A. L. Wadekar

Bombay

Bengal

Bombay-B

1968/69

185

M. Amarnath

Delhi

Karnataka

Delhi

1981/82

206*

S. M. Gavaskar

Bombay

Delhi

Bombay

1983/84

103*

M. Amarnath

Delhi

Bombay

Bombay

1983/84

106

S. M. Gavaskar

Bombay

Delhi

Bombay

1984/85

175

A. K. Sharma

Delhi

Tamil Nadu

Delhi

1991/92

140

S. R. Tendulkar

Bombay

Punjab

Bombay

1994/95

108

N. S. Sidhu

Punjab

Bombay

Bombay

1994/95

139

S. R. Tendulkar

Bombay

Punjab

Bombay

1994/95

176

A. K. Sharma

Delhi

Mumbai

Gwalior

1996/97

215

R. S. Dravid

Karnataka

Uttar Pradesh

Bangalore

1997/98

115

P. Dharmani

Punjab

Railways

Mohali

2004/05

109

M. Kaif

Uttar Pradesh

Bengal

Lucknow

2005/06

130*

G. Gambhir

Delhi

Uttar Pradesh

Mumbai

2007/08

105*

R. Vinay Kumar

Karnataka

Tamil Nadu

Mumbai

2014/15

143

Parthiv Patel

Gujarat

Mumbai

Indore

2016/17



CENTURIES BY CAPTAIN / WICKETKEEPERS IN RANJI TROPHY FINAL



Score

Name

Team

Against

Venue

Season

152

M. K. Mantri

Bombay

Holkar

Bombay-B

1951/52

115

P. Dharmani

Punjab

Railways

Mohali

2004/05

143

Parthiv Patel

Gujarat

Mumbai

Indore

2016/17



Statistics — Tushar Trivedi