Madhya Pradesh secure first title in almost 70 years to defeat Mumbai in Ranji Trophy final

Madhya Pradesh won its first Ranji Trophy title since 1953

Irrespective of the edition, Mumbai always start a Ranji Trophy campaign with the tag of ‘favourites’, for very obvious reasons. They are the most successful team in this competition, having lifted the title a record 41 times.

Hence, many expected them to clinch their 42nd title when they locked horns with Madhya Pradesh for the final of the 2021/22 edition of India’s premier domestic red-ball competition. Madhya Pradesh was the obvious underdogs, but not particularly because of their trophy count.

Though their cabinet is not as illustrious as Mumbai’s, Madhya Pradesh also previously won four Ranji Trophy titles. However, those titles came way back in the 1940s and 1950s, when they played under the name ‘Holkar’.

Over the last few years, Madhya Pradesh has not been anywhere near among the prime contenders for the trophy. They did make it to the final once, but even that was over a couple of decades ago – back in 1999.

Hence, this was a golden opportunity for Aditya Shrivastava’s team to re-establish themselves as a powerhouse in the Indian domestic circuit, as they did just that. Former Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit, who was the chief architect behind Vidarbha’s incredible rise in the late 2010s, led his team to their fifth Ranji Trophy title as Madhya Pradesh handed Mumbai a six-wicket defeat.

As it happened in the match:

Mumbai won the toss, and as many would have expected, Prithvi Shaw opted to bat first on a batting-friendly surface at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. They had a good start with the bat, with both openers Shaw and Yashavi Jaiswal looking in good touch.

Following their dismissals, the man of the hour, Sarfaraz Khan led the charge for Mumbai. He scored 134 runs, but besides these three players, no one could reach the 30-run mark for Mumbai as they were bowled out for 374 runs.

For Madhya Pradesh, Gaurav Yadav was the most influential bowler. The 30-year-old medium-pacer from Hoshangabad scalped four wickets, which included the crucial wicket of Sarfaraz, alongside the wickets of Shams Mulani, Tanush Kotian and Tushar Deshpande.

Madhya Pradesh’s start with the bat was not as good as Mumbai, with Himanshu Mantri departing early. However, centuries from Yash Dubey, Shubham Sharma and Rajat Patidar completely changed the course of the game.

Head coach Chandrakant Pandit played a crucial role in Madhya Pradesh’s victory

Head coach Chandrakant Pandit played a crucial role in Madhya Pradesh’s victory

From 47/1, Pandit’s team found themselves at 401/3, with the first-innings lead being pocketed already. Later on, tail-ender Saransh Jain also brought up his half-century to take his team’s total to 536, thereby giving Madhya Pradesh a substantial lead of 162 runs.

With time running against them at supersonic speed, Mumbai needed to score runs at a brisk pace in the second innings, as they tried to do just that. All of their top five in Shaw, Hardik Tamore, Arman Jaffer, Suved Parkar and Sarfaraz got off to good starts, but no one could score a half-century barring Parkar.

Eventually, Mumbai was bowled out for 269 runs, with Kumar Kartikeya being the wrecker-in-chief with the ball. The left-arm pacer, who has been in scintillating form in this competition, drew curtains to his campaign by picking up a four-wicket haul, including the wicket of Parkar.

In the fourth innings of the match, Madhya Pradesh needed only 108 runs to get their hands on the glittering piece of silverware, while Mumbai needed to scalp ten wickets in the blink of an eye. The stakes were completely against Shaw’s team, but the 41-time champions did rekindle their hopes early on.

In only the second delivery of the second over, war veteran Dhawal Kulkarni dismissed the in-form opener Dubey, as Mumbai started to harbour a dream of what would have been an extraordinary comeback.

However, unfortunately for them, there was nothing extraordinary about the game from that point onwards, as Mantri and Sharma stabilised Madhya Pradesh’s ship. The former was dismissed in the 17th over, but by then, his team had already crossed the 50-run mark.Number four batter Parth Sahani was dismissed a couple of overs later, but it was too little too late for Mumbai. Rajat Patidar played a crucial knock of unbeaten 30 runs to take his team over the line, and though Sharma was eventually dismissed in the 29th over by Mulani, it did not mean much in the grand scheme of things.