Aditya Sarwate’s haul of 6/59 and 5/98, including taking the key wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara in both innings, played a key factor as Vidarbha defeated Saurashtra by 78 runs to win the Ranji Trophy final for the second time. In the 2017/18 season, Vidarbha had defeated Delhi to create history by winning their maiden Ranji Trophy title. In 2018/19, Vidarbha built on a dominant show by all their players with Sarwate leading the charge and their second successive win in the Ranji Trophy highlights the progress that they have made ever since their historic win in 2018 in Indore. For Saurashtra, it was heartbreak yet again as they lost the final for the third time, having lost twice to Mumbai earlier.
The Ranji Trophy final will be remembered for the all-round exploits of Sarwate, who not only ran through the Saurashtra batting in both innings but contributed crucially with the bat. In the first innings, Vidarbha managed 312 only after Akshay Karnewar’s 73 and a partnership of 78 with Akshay Wakhare helped them gain momentum. Sarwate was the star as he relentlessly plugged away, getting the key wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara cheaply for 1. Snell Patel hit a century and a gritty 46 from skipper Jaydev Unadkat almost gave Saurashtra the lead but Sarwate’s 5/98 and Wakhare’s 4/80 gave Vidarbha a slender five-run lead.
However, in the second innings, Vidarbha were reduced to 147/8 but Sarwate (49) hurt Saurashtra with the bat. He shared a 41-run stand with Umesh Yadav (15) and the last wicket stand of 22 helped Vidarbha reach 200 and set Saurashtra a tricky target of 205. The game was firmly in Vidarbha’s grasp at the end of day 4 when they were reduced to 55/5. The game-changing moment was when Sarwate got rid of Pujara for 0 with an arm-ball that drifted in and Pujara played down the wrong line to be trapped plumb in front.
On day 5, Vishvaraj Jadeja held firm but Saurashtra kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Sarwate, though, was unstoppable and he took his maiden 10-wicket haul in First Class cricket by getting rid of Vishvaraj for 52. When Dharmendrasinh Jadeja mistimed a slog sweep off Wakhare, fittingly, Sarwate took the catch and Vidarbha sealed a glorious win as the small crowd in Jamtha erupted with joy.
Faiz Fazal, the Vidarbha skipper became the 11th captain to win two successive Ranji Trophy titles and stated the team had to work really hard. “Behind all this there is a lot of hard work from each and everyone. It is different, first time is always special but we had to work really hard this season. The whole team has worked hard in the off season. Really happy with the entire season but more happy with the way we played this final,” Fazal said.
Coach Chandrakant Pandit, who scripted Vidarbha’s fairytale run in 2017/18, said the win proved doubters wrong. “It is a very important win for us. People were saying it's fluke, but we have proved them wrong and won it for the second time. There was a lot of pressure, we only followed the process. You can see the results. It's just a matter of beginning for us,” Pandit said.