Vidarbha crowned champions in maiden Ranji final
Vidarbha 547 (Wadkar 133, Sarwate 79, Jaffer 78, Saini 5-135) and 32 for 1 (Jaffer 17*) beat Delhi 295 (Shorey 145, Himmat 66, Gurbani 6-59) and 280 (Rana 64, Shorey 62, Wakhare 4-95, Sarwate 3-30) by nine wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Vidarbha proved why they deserved to be crowned the Ranji Trophy champions in their maiden final - a debutant shone in the first over of the match, their best bowler of the season took a hat-trick, their lower order stepped up to hand them a massive lead, and their bowlers delivered long spells on the fourth day to wrap an emphatic nine-wicket win against Delhi in Indore.
Vidarbha, who had dominated most sessions of the match, started the fourth day by adding only 19 runs to their overnight lead of 233 runs, losing all of their last three wickets on 547. Delhi had some hope of taking a respectable lead when Dhruv Shorey and Nitish Rana struck half-centuries in the second session, aided by three dropped catches, before both fell minutes before the tea break and offspinner Akshay Wakhare helped wipe out six wickets in the last session. Delhi ended with a scanty lead of 28 with a flurry of late boundaries from Vikas Mishra and the Vidarbha batsmen chased it down in five overs.
Shorey and Rana came together in the first session to bring the deficit under 100. Vidarbha's fielders were also party to the partnership of 114 runs for the third wicket. In the sixth over after lunch, Rana's inside edge off the thigh pad was put down by short leg when the batsman was on 19. As soon as Rajneesh Gurbani was taken off the attack three overs later, Shorey, on 15, drove Siddhesh Neral but Wasim Jaffer dropped him at first slip. Rana and Shorey scored with ease thereafter and combined for a prolific over against Neral when they were in their thirties: a Rana edge flew wide of Faiz Fazal at slip before Shorey exhibited three classy strokes to race to 45: a flick, a back-foot punch and a cover drive.
Rana had barely stretched his score when Shorey was on 59 and edged Aditya Thakare, this time to slip where Jaffer put down a sharp chance again. Wicketkeeper Akshay Wadkar then pouched catches off both Shorey and Rana to land Delhi in trouble again. There was a change in Delhi's tempo when Shorey fell first off Sarwate: Rana and captain Rishabh Pant started smothering the bowlers to collect quick runs. Pant smacked his third ball so far over long-on that the ball had to be changed and Rana ended that over of Gurbani with two fours through the legside. However, Gurbani had Rana edge what turned out to be the last ball before tea.
Wakhare provided the early breakthrough in the last session with a beauty to knock over Himmat Singh's off stump for a duck but, for some reason, Pant kept swiping at the other end. He also got a life when he survived a stumping chance off Wakhare on 27 but lasted only four balls after that. He handed a skier to point for a 36-ball 32. Six down and trailing by 11 runs, Delhi were running out of time and luck.
Mishra's late surge, including two sixes down the ground, ensured Delhi got a lead, but it was only a matter of time before Vidarbha would chase it down to lift the trophy.
Chasing 29 at the end of the day, Vidarbha lost Fazal when he was trapped lbw by Kulwant Khejroliya on the back pad for 2. Jaffer and R Sanjay saw through the next four overs patiently before Jaffer uncharacteristically struck four fours in a Khejroliya over to seal the win. Khejroliya kept banging them short and Jaffer pulled, hooked and tucked the final four to fine leg to lift his arms and be mobbed by his team-mates.
Vidarbha had four wickets in hand when the day began and Delhi started the new year the way they had ended 2017. Khejroliya dismissed Siddhesh Neral for the third time in the match off a no ball but it didn't cost Delhi much. Neral was dropped on 61 too, and he edged one off Navdeep Saini to the wicketkeeper for 74 in the sixth over of the day. Five balls later, overnight centurion Akshay Wadkar swiped for a leading edge to point and this time Khejroliya managed a legitimate delivery. Saini finished the innings in the next over for a five-for by having Thakare edge one to the slips which was a juggled catch that popped out of third slip's hands and was completed by Shorey at first slip.
Delhi's second innings started with Gambhir cashing in whenever the ball was pitched on middle or leg, collecting three of his seven fours square on the leg side. His brisk innings ended when he was struck in front of leg stump by Gurbani from around the wicket and the angle was such that it would have missed the stumps but he fell to a poor decision. Much before that, the opening stand was broken when Kunal Chandela tried to clear the field down the ground against Wakhare with the new ball, but handed a catch to mid-off for 9.
Vishal Dikshit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo