Gujarat clinched their maiden Ranji Trophy title as they rode on captain Parthiv Patel’s stupendous 143 to beat record champions Mumbai by five wickets on the final day at the Holkar Stadium here on Saturday.
Chasing a challenging 312-run target, second time finalists Gujarat were in trouble at 89-3 but a 116-run stand between Parthiv and Manprit Juneja (54) helped them stay in a strong position on the fifth day of the 83rd Ranji Trophy final.
Left-hander Parthiv, who recorded his 25th century in first class cricket, then stitched a 94-run stand for the fifth wicket with Rujul Bhat (27 not out) to help Gujarat overhaul the target set by Mumbai, who were bidding to extend their record haul of 41 Ranji Trophy titles.
Resuming the day at 47-0, Gujarat had a disastrous start as medium pacer Balwinder Singh Sandhu struck early, removing opener Priyank Kirit Panchal (34) and Bhargav Merai (2). While Panchal
failed to score in the morning as he offered a catch to Suryakumar Yadav at second slip, Merai had his stumps dismantled, leaving Gujarat in a spot of bother at 51-2.
Left-hander Parthiv then joined overnight opener Samit Gohel (21) in the middle and the captain looked determined from the beginning to make it a historic day for Gujarat, who had last played a Ranji Trophy final in the 1950-51 season. He batted with a positive intent and put the pressure back on Sandhu and fellow pacer Shardul Thakur.
However, his partnership with Gohel didn’t last long with the latter edging it to wicket-keeper Aditya Tare off a medium pacer Abhishek Nayar delivery, with Gujarat at trouble at 89-3.
Then Juneja joined hands with Patel and the duo approached the chase with positivity. Parthiv and Juneja had troubled Mumbai in the first innings as well with scores of 90 and 77 respectively and the duo continued to flay the bowlers.
Parthiv, especially continued to play his shots and he also had his share of luck as he earned several fours through inside and outside edges. But he was bold and determined as he raced away to his fifty in 71 deliveries.
His pacy innings helped Juneja to settle early and the latter too dazzled, finding boundary shots regularly. The left and right combination ensured that the Mumbai bowlers struggled to find a good line and length as they leaked runs.
Both of them brought all the cricketing shots to the table, rising to all the challenges as they not only bailed the team out of trouble but also put Gujarat in a strong position.
When Juneja was caught behind by Tare off a delivery from Akhil Herwadkar, he had posted his 15th fifty in first class cricket and Gujarat were 205-4, still 107 runs behind the target.
Then Parthiv, who was at 85, was joined by Bhat in the middle and the duo went about their jobs smoothly. Parthiv then showed how it is done as he picked up three fours off Sandhu in the over after Juneja’s wicket. He quickly scored his 100 off just 148 deliveries.
At 217-4, Mumbai allowed Gujarat to breathe easy as wicket-keeper Tare dropped an easy catch of Bhat. With Mumbai piling on the pressure, Gujarat absorbed the pressure and Bhat showed a lot of patience, allowing the partnership to flourish.
Their 94-run stand was broken by Thakur who took a catch off his own bowling to dismiss Parthiv for 143. But Parthiv had done his job, leaving Gujarat barely 13 runs behind the target.
Bhat and Chirag Gandhi (11 not out) completed the formalities as they won by five wickets, triggering wild celebrations in the Gujarat camp.