Ranji Trophy Final: Vidarbha rides on Gurbani, Jaffer

Appearing in his ninth Ranji Trophy final, Jaffer steadied the innings with an unbeaten 61; earlier, Gurbani cleaned up the Delhi tail with a six-for.

Vidarbha batsman Wasim Jaffer, who remained unbeaten on 61 at the end of second day’s play, in action against Delhi in the Ranji Trophy Final at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on Saturday.   -  R. V. MOORTHY

 

In a clash of the dream chasers, Vidarbha seems to have gained the upper hand. At the iconic Holkar Stadium on Saturday, the young side — into it’s first-ever Ranji Trophy final — showed grit and determination to put the pressure back on seven-time champion Delhi.

Playing as a closely-knit unit, Vidarbha has stunned the bigwigs in this edition of the tournament, and it was no exception on the second day of the final as it restricted Delhi to 295 in the first innings, and in reply, was at 206-4 at stumps. Trailing by 89 runs, the team has the vastly-experienced Wasim Jaffer unbeaten on 61 along with Akshay Wakhare on zero.

Ranji Trophy final, Day Two: As it happened

Appearing in his ninth Ranji Trophy final, Jaffer — a Mumbai cricket veteran— anchored the ship after the side lost the wickets of two set batsmen— Faiz Fazal (67) and Sanjay Ramaswamy (31) — in quick successions. From being 96-0 at one stage, Vidarbha suddenly were reduced to 107-2. That was the time when the 39-year-old had to step up, and he did what was expected — building small partnerships. He stitched a 26-run partnership with Ganesh Satish (who was trapped in front of the stumps by Navdeep Saini for 12), followed by a 73-run stand with Apoorv Wankhade.

Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal found his gaps with ease on the second day morning.   -  R.V. MOORTHY

 

However, the camp would not be too happy losing Wankhade (28), who looked all settled. Just when it looked that Vidarbha would finish the day, losing only three wickets, Wankhade was caught behind the stumps by Delhi skipper Rishabh Pant of Kulwant Khejroliya.

That late strike by Delhi could well make a difference, but with Zafar around, Vidarbha would hope things don’t go haywire hereon. On a surface that did not offer much to the bowlers, Delhi bowlers overall, failed to leave a mark, with semifinal hero Navdeep only scalping a wicket, along with Akash Sudan— who had two in his kitty.

While the batsmen played their part perfectly, Vidarbha would be thankful to its young medium pacer, Rajneesh Gurbani, for bringing the side back into the game on the second day. The youngster, who has turned all eyes this season, picking up 37 wickets so far, grabbed six wickets this time — including a hat-trick.

Starting from an overnight score of 271-6, Delhi was trying to settle down, when Gurbani furrowed the tail— taking all the four wickets. First it was Vikas Mishra, who was cleaned up by Gurbani for seven. Mishra paid the price for not moving his feet while facing a delivery that cut back in a mile from outside the off. It beat the inside-edge and rattled the off-stump.

That was the beginning of the end for Delhi.

Starting from an overnight score of 271-6, Delhi was trying to settle down, when Gurbani furrowed the tail— taking all the four wickets.   -  R.V. MOORTHY

 

Saini too found his stumps rattled in the very next delivery — which was also the last of the 101st over. Dhruv Shorey — Delhi’s top-scorer with 145 runs, fell in the first ball of Gurbani’s next over. Cutting in from outside the off-stump, the ball hit the back of Shorey’s pad and rattled the off-stump. A fine innings by Shorey, who helped Delhi put up a competitive first innings total, was halted, leading to Delhi losing its tail rather meekly. The proceedings were complete when Gurbani bowled out Khejroliya on a duck.

With this feat, Gurbani also equalled a 44-year-old record. Till now, Kalyanasundaram (Tamil Nadu) had the record of taking a hat-trick in a Ranji Trophy final (against Bombay in 1973).

With Vidarbha requiring another 90 runs to take a first innings lead and Delhi requiring six wickets to stop it from achieving the goal, a thrilling Sunday awaits cricket enthusiasts.