Ranji Trophy 2023-24 Final: Resurgent Vidarbha stands between heavyweight Mumbai and 42nd title

They belong to the same state. They speak the same language. But that’s where the similarities end, especially in cricket parlance, for Mumbai and Vidarbha.

Published : Mar 09, 2024 15:19 IST , MUMBAI - 2 MINS READ

The Vidarbha cricket team poses for a group photo after winning the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Madhya Pradesh.
The Vidarbha cricket team poses for a group photo after winning the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Madhya Pradesh. | Photo Credit: ANI
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The Vidarbha cricket team poses for a group photo after winning the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Madhya Pradesh. | Photo Credit: ANI

There is so much similarity and so many differences in what would be the last match – the Ranji Trophy final - of yet another gruelling senior domestic cricket season.

They belong to the same state. They speak the same language. But that’s where the similarities end, especially in cricket parlance, for Mumbai and Vidarbha.

The differences are stark, as stark as the one between Mumbai and any other domestic side.

Mumbai has won the glittering trophy a whopping 41 times and will be featuring in its 48th final of the 89 editions.

Vidarbha, on the other hand, will compete in its third Ranji Trophy final, starting at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

In no way does history make it a David vs. Goliath contest. After all, the recent record makes Vidarbha a more successful outfit. Ever since Mumbai’s 41st crown in 2015-16, Vidarbha has won both its championships.

As a result, Akshay Wadkar’s boys will be ready to take on Ajinkya Rahane’s on-song army. Even in terms of strengths, there is little that separates the two teams.

Vidarbha’s pace trio of veteran Umesh Yadav, Yash Thakur and Aditya Thakare can be as potent as Mumbai’s Shardul Thakur, Tushar Deshpande and Mohit Avasthi. The unit that fires up front on an expected lively track at the Wankhede will definitely lend an upper hand to its side.

Even in the spin department, Vidarbha’s Akshay Wakhare and Aditya Sarwate have a combined Ranji Trophy tally of 535 wickets, with the latter being an all-rounder. They can definitely match Tanush Kotian and Shams Mulani’s exploits in both the departments.

Tanush Kotian and Tushar Deshpande during a practice session ahead of the Vidarbha Ranji Trophy final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday.
Tanush Kotian and Tushar Deshpande during a practice session ahead of the Vidarbha Ranji Trophy final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/The Hindu
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Tanush Kotian and Tushar Deshpande during a practice session ahead of the Vidarbha Ranji Trophy final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/The Hindu

It will thus be down to the side that bats better and soaks the big-match pressure that could well decide the fate of the Ranji Trophy final.

If Mumbai has Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer’s charisma, Musheer Khan’s ability to grind and an out-of-form Rahane’s desperation to get back among runs, Vidarbha has professional Karun Nair and Dhruv Shorey’s grit, Atharva Taide’s flair and Wadkar’s consistency.

Mumbai’s Shreyas Iyer will be under the scanner after losing his BCCI annual contract and scoring three runs in the semifinal against TN.
Mumbai’s Shreyas Iyer will be under the scanner after losing his BCCI annual contract and scoring three runs in the semifinal against TN. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/The Hindu
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Mumbai’s Shreyas Iyer will be under the scanner after losing his BCCI annual contract and scoring three runs in the semifinal against TN. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/The Hindu

If Vidarbha can soak in the big-match pressure, especially of playing the Ranji Trophy final against Mumbai in Mumbai, it will be a real stretch for Rahane and Co. to regain the trophy after eight years.

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORD
In 2013-14, Mumbai: Mumbai won by 338 runs
In 2018-19, Nagpur: Vidarbha won by an innings & 145 runs

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