In the Ranji Trophy, the dominance of the Mumbai cricket team is total. They have won over 40 titles and they dominate the charts when it comes to batting, bowling and fielding. Thus, when a team and player who do not belong to Mumbai create a record, it becomes big. This is the case with Saurashtra wicketkeeper Snell Patel, who achieved a unique record on day 2 of the Ranji Trophy final between reigning champions Vidarbha and Saurashtra at the VCA stadium in Nagpur.
Patel slammed a century against a Vidarbha attack consisting of Umesh Yadav and in the process became the first wicketkeeper-opener outside of Mumbai to have slammed a century in the final. Madhav Mantri was the first to achieve the feat in the 1951/52 season of the Ranji Trophy against Holkar while Sameer Dighe (137) scored a century while opening in the final against Punjab at the Wankhede. Vinayak Samant was the last keeper-opener from Mumbai to score a century in the 2008/09 season as Mumbai defeated Uttar Pradesh in Hyderabad.
Although Patel scored a century, Vidarbha managed to take a slender but crucial five-run lead thanks to Aditya Sarwate’s haul of 5/98 and superb support from Akshay Wakhare who took 4/80. Umesh was the other wicket-taker as he got the wicket of Patel for 102. Vidarbha are looking to defend their title while Saurashtra will be aiming to win it for the first-time ever.
Snell Patel is named after the former South Africa pace bowler Richard Snell, who played for the Proteas in their readmission to international cricket during the 1992 World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand. However, in an interview with the Indian Express, he states that the name was given to him by his uncle. However, the name has not sat down well with him. “It’s become a habit. I don’t worry about it. Earlier, I used to tell my team-mates, especially during Zonal games for the National Cricket Academy, that my name was Snell and not Snail or Snehal, but they would call me whatever that comes to their minds!” Patel told the paper.
After taking a five-run lead, Vidarbha have lost half their side in the second innings on a pitch that is assisting the spinners. A total in excess of 200 to chase in the fourth innings could be difficult but in the quarterfinal and semi-final, Saurashtra have chased down big totals. In the quarterfinal clash against Uttar Pradesh, Pujara’s fifty helped Saurashtra chase down 372 in the fourth innings, the highest in the fourth-innings of the Ranji Trophy. In the semi-final against Karnataka at the M Chinnaswamy stadium, Pujara scored a century as Saurashtra entered the final with a close win.