Ranji Trophy recap: Top 5 finals featuring star players

The Ranji Trophy 2018-19 final between Vidarbha and Saurashtra starts February 3 in Nagpur.

Gujarat defeated Mumbai to win the Ranji Trophy in 2016-17.   -  PTI

India’s recent tour of Australia showcased the influence of Ranji Trophy and the importance of a competitive first-class competition. It makes players and prepares them for the hard grind at the international level.

Mayank Agarwal is a product of a strong first-class competition. It prepared him for the rigours of Test cricket. When the four-Test series was level 1-1, India was able to replace one of the two faltering openers with a player who had scored well over 1,000 runs in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season.

And, without looking out of place, Agarwal helped India win its maiden Test series Down Under with two half-centuries and a crucial forty-plus score.

Cheteshwar Pujara’s preparedness to bat for long hours and churn out big hundreds was forged at the Ranji Trophy level, in which he has two triple centuries. That aspect was evident in Australia, where the 31-year-old batted for 28 hours and 22 minutes in the four-Test series, scoring three hundreds (two of which resulted in Indian wins) and grinding down a good Australian bowling attack.

Over the years, Ranji Trophy has delivered a number of world-class players and some season finales remain etched in the memory.

Sportstar revisits five Ranji Trophy finals which were nothing short of epic.

Dilip Vengsarkar remained unbeaten on 139 and Sachin Tendulkar made a 75-ball 96 against a bowling attack led by Kapil Dev and Chetan Sharma.   -  The Hindu Archives

 

Haryana vs Bombay, Ranji Trophy 1991 final

This final will take some bettering! It featured some of the celebrated names in Indian cricket going head-to-head. The final day was witnessed by over 25,000 spectators and it was nail-biting. Bombay (Mumbai now) which had Sachin Tendulkar, Sanjay Manjrekar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Vinod Kambli, among others, was set a target of 355 to win in 67 overs in the fourth innings.

Vengsarkar remained unbeaten on 139 and Tendulkar made a 75-ball 96 against a bowling attack led by Kapil Dev and Chetan Sharma. Bombay scored at more than five runs an over, but the lack of support for these two batsmen proved to be its undoing. It agonisingly fell short by three runs, handing Haryana its only Ranji Trophy title to date.

Zaheer Khan five for 43 helped Baroda beat Railways by 21 runs and lift the domestic title for the fifth time.   -  V. Ganesan

 

Baroda vs Railways, Ranji Trophy 2000-01 final

Zaheer Khan's entry into the Indian team was earned through his strong bowling performances for Baroda, where he started his domestic career. Just months after he made his international debut, Zaheer helped Baroda win the Ranji Trophy with a five-for in the fourth innings of a final which Railways had dominated. Set a target of 223 to win, Zaheer's five for 43 helped Baroda beat Railways by 21 runs and lift the domestic title for the fifth time.

Mumbai vs Gujarat, Ranji Trophy 2016-17 final

This was another epic final involving Mumbai, the 41-time winner of the competition. It conceded a 100-run first-innings lead to the Parthiv Patel-led Gujarat and was firmly on the backfoot. However, thanks to half-centuries from Shreyas Iyer, captain Aditya Tare and old warhorse Abhishek Nayar, it turned the tables on Gujarat, setting it a formidable target of 312.

Led by an attacking innings of 143 from Parthiv and a half-century from Manpreet Juneja, Gujarat managed to chase down the target with relative ease. The five-wicket win helped it lift its maiden and only Ranji Trophy title to date.

Sachin Tendulkar was one of Mumbai's first-innings centurions in the Ranji Trophy final in 2006-07, helping it recover from being two down for 14 in the company of the other centurion, Wasim Jaffer.   -  Vivek Bendre

 

Mumbai vs Bengal, Ranji Trophy 2006-07 final

This final may not be remembered for the contest — Mumbai won the match by 132 runs — but more so because it featured two of India's favourite cricket sons (Sachin Tendulkar for Mumbai and Sourav Ganguly for Bengal).

Sachin was one of Mumbai's first-innings centurions, helping it recover from being two down for 14 in the company of the other centurion, Wasim Jaffer, who moved to Vidarbha ahead of the 2017-18 first-class season.

Ganguly was bowled by Zaheer Khan for a first-ball duck in Bengal's first innings, but made a 129-ball 90 in the second innings, with his team chasing 472. He fell to Zaheer in the second innings as well.

Delhi emerged victorious from a seesaw battle in the final in 2007-08, thanks to a second-innings unbeaten hundred from Gautam Gambhir.   -  PTI

 

Delhi vs Uttar Pradesh, Ranji Trophy 2007-08 final

Delhi emerged victorious from a seesaw battle, thanks to a second-innings unbeaten hundred from Gautam Gambhir. Chasing 230 for victory at Wankhede Stadium, against a Uttar Pradesh bowling attack comprising Praveen Kumar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Piyush Chawla, Gambhir's innings made the target look smaller and easier than it actually was. He smashed 130 runs off just 154 balls and helped chase down the target in the 56th over.

Shikhar Dhawan batted at No. 3, making an unbeaten 54 in the second innings.