Vidarbha emerged as the champions of the 2018/19 Ranji Trophy by defeating Saurashtra. (Image credit: Nitin Gadkari Twitter)
Vidarbha are the champions of the Ranji Trophy for the second time. In the final against Saurashtra at the VCA stadium in Jamtha, Faiz Fazal’s team won by 78 runs to regain the trophy while for Saurashtra, they had to face heartbreak for the third time after losing two finals to Mumbai. Throughout the season, there were some magnificent performances which boosted Vidarbha at crucial times in the season. Wasim Jaffer continued his record-breaking run as he scored 1000 runs in the season yet again to take his Ranji Trophy run-tally close to 12000 while there were contributions from skipper Faiz Fazal and Akshay Wadkar. Aditya Sarwate, the star of the final with 11 wickets, was the leading wicket-taker for Vidarbha with 55 wickets in 11 games and he got good support from Akshay Wakhare with 34 wickets.
With Vidarbha becoming the sixth team in the 84-year history of the Ranji Trophy to defend the title in the immediate season after winning it, here is a journey of Vidarbha during their championship run.
Match 1: Drew with Maharashtra
Vidarbha started off their campaign on a shaky note with Maharashtra notching up 343 thanks to Chirag Khurana’s 89 and Rahul Tripathi’s 73. Vidarbha were bowled out for 120 and asked to follow-on but Faiz Fazal’s 131 and Akshay Wadkar’s 122, aided by Wasim Jaffer’s 63 and Aditya Sarwate’s 60, Vidarbha ended strongly on 501/8 declared as the match at the MCA stadium in Pune ended in a draw.
Match 2: Drew with Vidarbha
After the thriller in the 2017/18 season, Vidarbha and Karnataka’s league match in this season once again was a thriller. Ganesh Satish and Shrikant Wagh’s 57 helped Karnataka reach 307. However, Dega Nischal (113) and Sharath BR (103) gave Karnataka a 71-run lead. Sathish’s 79 and Apoorva Wankhade’s fifty boosted Vidarbha but Jagadeesha Suchith’s five-wicket haul bowled them out for 228. Sarwate picked four wickets but Karnataka held on for a tense draw.
Match 3: Drew with Baroda
Fazal (151), Jaffer (153) and Wadkar (102) propelled Vidarbha to 529/6 declared but Aditya Waghmode (103) and Deepak Hooda (100) helped Baroda to 337. Kedar Devdhar and Waghmode scored tons again as the match ended in a dull draw.
Match 4: Defeated Chhattisgarh by 10 wickets
Thakare’s 5/56 bowled Chhattisgarh out for 232 while Fazal (146) and Wadkar (144) helped Vidarbha take a 100-run lead. Lalit Yadav ripped through the Chhattisgarh batting with 7/56 and they were bowled out for 143. Vidarbha coasted to their first win in the tournament to gain momentum.
Match 5: Defeated Railways by 118 runs
Fazal (53) and Akshay Karnewar (94) helped Vidarbha to 331. Despite Pratham Singh’s 95, Railways trailed by 95 runs. Vidarbha were blown away for 147 with Harsh Tyagi taking 7/41 but chasing 243, Sarwate took 6/43 as Railways lost the match by 118 runs.
Match 6: Drew with Gujarat
Kathan Patel’s century helped Gujarat reach 321 but Jaffer showed his mettle with 126 as Vidarbha secured a 164-run lead. Rujul Bhatt’s solid 64 ensured a dull draw but Vidarbha had already come close to sealing a spot in the play-offs.
Match 7: Defeated Mumbai by innings and 146 runs
Perhaps their biggest win in the history of their tournament. Jaffer hurt his old team in a dramatic way with 178 and Satish’s 90 and Mohit Kale’s 68 helped Vidarbha reach 511. Wakhare’s 5/85 reduced Mumbai to 252 and following on, Mumbai suffered another catastrophe with Sarwate taking 6/48 as Vidarbha secured a massive win.
Match 8: Drew with Saurashtra
Harvik Desai and Sheldon Jackson hit fifties while Wasim Jaffer was unlucky to miss out on a century as he was caught and bowled by Jaydev Unadkat for 98. Vishvaraj Jadeja hit a century but the game ended in a draw.
Quarterfinal: Defeated Uttarakhand by an innings and 115 runs
Saurabh Rawat’s 108 helped Uttarakhand reach 355 but Jaffer’s blazing 206, Sanjay Raghunath’s 141 and Sarwate’s 102 helped Vidarbha reach a mammoth 629. Sarwate and Umesh Yadav hurt Uttarakhand with the ball as both picked up five wickets to win by an innings for the second time this season.
Semifinal: Defeated Kerala by an innings and 11 runs
The Wayanad pitch was helpful to the bowlers, especially to Umesh Yadav. The India pacer picked up 7/48 to bowl Kerala out for 106. Fazal smashed 75 and Vidarbha took a 102-run lead. Umesh took 5/31 and ended with 12 in the match as Vidarbha entered the final high on confidence.
Final: Defeated Saurashtra by 78 runs
Sarwate picked up 11 wickets in the final and Akshay Karnewar’s 73 was key in Vidarbha ending their tournament on the ultimate high by winning the title for the second time.