Mumbai boss their way to No. 40
Mumbai 355 (Jaffer 132, H Shah 55) beat Saurashtra 148 (Vasavada 55, Kulkarni 4-24) and 82 (Kulkarni 5-32, Agarkar 4-15) by an innings and 125 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Before the Ranji Trophy final, the Mumbai captain Ajit Agarkar had talked about his side not having put together the perfect match this season. True to their reputation of being at their best when it matters, Mumbai delivered that perfect match on the biggest domestic stage to reclaim their familiar position as Ranji champions.
Agarkar and Dhawal Kulkarni were so devastating with the new ball that at one stage Saurashtra, who have built up a reputation for scoring big, were in so precarious a position that journalists scrambled to find the lowest totals in first-class history. They avoided those levels of ignominy but were still rolled over for a measly 82, handing Mumbai a handsome innings and 125-run victory.
Saurashtra had their best chance of a fightback when they had Mumbai six down on the second evening and only 89 ahead. They let that lead swell to 139 yesterday, and on third morning Hiken Shah strengthened Mumbai further with more than two hours of resistance.
Saurashtra needed a solid start if they were to pose any challenge, but their innings unravelled with unseemly haste. There was a poignant moment in the first over as Shitanshu Kotak, who waited two decades to play in a Ranji final, was caught-behind for a duck in what could be his final first-class game. He dejectedly walked past the trophy, which had been brought out and displayed on the boundary's edge, on his way to the dressing-room.
The other opener, Sagar Jogiyani, has also had a game to forget. He had fallen for 1 on the first day, muffed a chance to run out Wasim Jaffer on the second and rounded off the game with a duck on the third.
Agarkar and Kulkarni were getting the ball to move both ways, and maintained a tight line and length, but Saurashtra's batsmen looked so out of their depth that the persistent doubts over their ability to score outside the benign surfaces of Rajkot will not be swept away any time soon. Saurashtra coach Debu Mitra admitted after the match that his batsmen needed to spend more time on seaming tracks, and that they didn't have enough experience of difficult batting conditions.
They fished at far too many deliveries that should have been left alone. Mumbai operated with four slips and two gullies for much of the first hour, and the catches duly arrived.
There was bounce as well for the new-ball bowlers, and it was one of those lifting deliveries that removed Rahul Dave, hit high on the bat as he edged to the cordon. Aarpit Vasavada, who provided much of Saurashtra's resistance in the first innings, got a rough lbw decision after being struck outside off. Jaydev Shah avoided a pair but was bowled through the gate for 6.
Agarkar had high praise for Kulkarni's bowling. "They probably don't have the depth of batting that we do," he said. "Little bit surprised (at how easy the victory was), Dhawal bowled exceptionally well, he could have had eight wickets if luck was on his side."
At 11 for 5, the game was effectively over. Never have Saurashtra missed Cheteshwar Pujara as badly as they did in this match. They may have been outclassed in the final but, still, that won't take the shine off Saurashtra's best season in nearly seven decades.
For Mumbai, another title is only a return to business as usual after missing out in the previous two seasons. If the 40th trophy wasn't enough to show their domestic dominance, it comes in a season when they have won the Under-25 and U-16 titles too, and are battling it out in the final of the U-19.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo