Bengaluru, June 26: Despite having no elite players in their ranks, Madhya Pradesh defeated a star-studded Mumbai side to lift their maiden Ranji Trophy title with an emphatic six-wicket win in the final here at the iconic M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday (June 26).
Coach Chandrakant Pandit - who failed to win it for Madhya Pradesh as a captain during the Ranji Trophy 1998-99 season - managed to fulfill his dream for his state team, 23 years later at the very same ground.
On the final day, 41-time champions Mumbai were bundled out for 269 in their second innings setting a paltry 108-run target for MP to win which the Aditya Shrivastava-led side overhauled in 29.5 overs for the loss of four wickets.
Rajat Patidar - who received a lot of attention with his century in the IPL 2022 for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) - fittingly scored the winning runs for his side at Chinnaswamy Stadium, which also happens to be the home ground of his IPL franchise. Soon after MP's win, the crowd at the stadium started chanting RCB-RCB in appreciation of Patidar.
Sarfaraz Khan (45), who finished the season with a mammoth 982 runs in nine games, and young Suved Parkar (51) tried their bit for Prithvi Shaw-led Mumbai, but MP's Kumar Kartikeya (4/98) and the other bowlers kept picking up wickets at regular intervals as their opponents tried to play attacking shots in order to post a competitive total. MP bowlers, on the other hand, knew that wickets would come their way.
In the first innings, riding on a sensational century from Sarfaraz Khan, Mumbai posted 374. The Aditya Shrivastava-led side responded strongly with the bat and posted a mammoth 536 as Yash Dubey (133), Shubham Sharma (116), and Patidar (112) slammed centuries to put their team in a commanding position. Mumbai, coached by Mumbai stalwart Amol Muzumdar, failed to pose much threat with the ball to the spirited MP batters in both the innings.
Sharma won the player of the match for 116 and 30 while Sarfaraz - who fell 18 short of 1000 runs in the season - was adjuged the player of the series for his batting exploits.
As they completed the victory, a teary-eyed Pandit was flooded with memories, 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. 23 years later, as MP created history under his watch, the coach was raised by his boys on their shoulders after the win.
MP's win once again proved that the Ranji Trophy is often won by sides which don't have too many superstars or India prospects with ambition or wherewithal to play top-flight cricket.
It happened with Rajasthan when they had Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Akash Chopra during their triumph while Vidarbha had Wasim Jaffer and Ganesh Sathish guiding a bunch of youngsters.
In MP, there was no Avesh Khan or Venkatesh Iyer and had only an emerging potential star in Patidar, yet 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, it has been won by teams like Rajasthan (twice), Vidarbha (twice), Saurashtra (once) and Madhya Pradesh, who would never be in contention in the past.
This shows that cricket has moved from the Shivaji Park, Azad Maidan or Cross Maidan in Mumbai, from the National Stadium in Delhi or the state-of-the-art camps in Bengaluru or Kolkata, to the hinterlands.
(With PTI inputs)