Parthiv Patel scored the most significant century of his First-Class career as his power-packed 143 enabled Gujarat to bulldoze defending champions Mumbai by five wickets for their maiden Ranji Trophy title here today.
Chasing a tricky target of 312, Gujarat team was guided by their oldest player, whose captain’s knock off 196 balls will be remembered for a long time as it also ensured the highest fourth innings chase in a Ranji Trophy final.
It was the second time that Gujarat had made the final of the prestigious domestic tournament and first in 66 years.
They have shown gradual improvement as a team, having won the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy last season and T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in the preceding year.
On one side, it was the 41-time champions, who have the pedigree but on the other hand, Gujarat had two international players in Patel and R P Singh, whose experience proved invaluable for the team throughout the tournament.
Pint-sized Patel showed why his 168 First-Class matches couldn’t have been taken lightly. More so because his 90 in the first innings was the reason Gujarat got a 100-run lead.
His 25th century was all guts which eventually brought the glory when Chirag Gandhi slashed Shardul Thakur past point boundary.
The oldest member with just seven weeks short of his 32nd birthday, Parthiv was celebrating like a child, so was their professional recruit RP Singh and the injured Axar Patel.
The match-winning century in the final will also increase worry for chairman of selectors MSK Prasad as first-choice Test keeper Wriddhiman Saha is fit but Parthiv has been in blazing form with the bat of late. It will be interesting as to who keeps against Bangladesh as both are expected to play in Irani Trophy.
Mumbai were sloppy on the field but that can’t take away anything from Gujarat’s effort. They never took their foot off the pedal, didn’t try and play a defensive game. The bulk of the 24 boundaries that Parthiv hit was a testimony to that even though there were a few inside edges and chinese cuts.
Manpreet Juneja (54, 115 balls) was equally good again adding 116 runs with his captain. The Mumbai slip cordon started sledging him but it was more to do with the lack of quality in their bowling attack.
There was seam movement but both Parthiv and Manpreet played some audacious drives off Shardul Thakur and Balwinder Sandhu Jr.
Both hit some delectable boundaries past mid-off and mid-on. There were cover drives, square drives, short arm pulls. With no help for spinners, once Sandhu and Thakur needed a break, the two left-arm spinners Vijay Gohil and Vishal Dabholkar could make hardly any impact.
It was a sight to find the drooping shoulders of the Mumbai players and their skipper Aditya Tare, their ego busted as it was only the second time in 26 years that Mumbai have lost a final. Overall this is the fifth time that Mumbai have lost a Ranji Trophy summit clash in their 46 appearances.
The last time it was Kapil Dev’s Haryana which beat Sanjay Manjrekar’s Mumbai by two runs — a match remembered for a hobbling Dilip Vengsarkar’s 139.
“It was a dream we collectively saw at the beginning of the season. I was taking my chances and am glad that the chances I took paid off. Manpreet played brilliantly. When we needed momentum, last evening, Priyank played well. RP Singh has worked really well with the boys,” said Parthiv.
“The credit should go to the young boys (for consistent performances in Ranji Trophy). As an experienced player, you have to put your hand in big games and I am glad that I put my hand up,” he concluded.