Vidarbha became the sixth team to successfully defend the Ranji title © Cricbuzz
“A good chef doesn’t reveal his tricks,” was what captain Faiz Fazal said after Vidarbha won the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy, claiming the title for the second year in a row with a 78-run win over Saurashtra at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur. Needing five wickets for the title defence on the final day, Vidarbha found a hero again in Aditya Sarwate, who finished with six wickets in the final innings, and with eleven wickets in the match to steer Vidarbha to domestic glory.
Sarwate was the one who gave Vidarbha the breakthrough after Kamlesh Makvana and Vishvaraj Jadeja had patched together a 33-run stand for the sixth wicket. Given Saurashtra mauled down huge targets in the quarterfinal and semifinal, it had to be something dramatic that portended the end of fight for them. And it arrived in the Sarwate’s second over of the day, which saw the out-of-shape ball changed, spin less than it should have, and then force a terrible misjudgement from Makwana, who was out bowled leaving the ball.
Akshay Wakhare wasn’t too far behind, finishing with three wickets in the fourth innings and with seven in the game. He followed up Sarwate’s strike of Makwana with Prerak Mankad’s wicket in the next over, doing so in the middle of a long spell that saw him opening the bowling alongside Umesh Yadav, the latter conceding four runs in four overs to keep the pressure on.
Survival or victory was a long shot away for Saurashtra, who needed a further 115 runs with three wickets in hand when Mankad got out. They had Vishvaraj Jadeja at the crease, batting on 42 and looking ever so determined to keep the fight on. But it was Sarwate into the act again, forcing a sweep from Vishvaraj Jadeja on 52 and pinning him in front for his maiden ten-wicket haul in first-class cricket.
The last two wickets put up 24 runs, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja being at the helm with 17 off 56 balls but it was too much to ask from the lower-order against a motivated bowling line-up on a fifth-day pitch. The finale defeat means Saurashtra have now lost all the three Ranji Trophy finals they have been a part of, twice undone by Mumbai and this time by the defending champions.
Brief scores: Vidarbha 312 (Akshay Karnewar 73*, Akshay Wadkar 45; Jaydev Unadkat 3-54) & 200 (Aditya Sarwate 49, Mohit Kale 38; Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 6-96) beat Saurashtra 307 (Snell Patel 102, Jaydev Unadkat 46; Aditya Sarwate 5-98) & 127 (Vishvaraj Jadeja 52; Aditya Sarwate 6-59, Akshay Wakhare 3-37) by 78 runs