Karnataka v Maharashtra, Ranji final, Hyderabad, 5th day February 2, 2014

Karnataka seal seventh Ranji Trophy title

The Report by Karthik Krishnaswamy in Hyderabad

Karnataka 515 (Rahul 131, Satish 117, Fallah 3-93) and 157 for 3 beat Maharashtra 305 (Bawne 89) and 366 (Jadhav 112, Vinay 4-116, Gopal 4-47) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

For the last three days, the Ranji Trophy had sat gleaming in the lowest tier of the Shivlal Yadav pavilion, right behind the Maharashtra dugout. At no point during the final had Maharashtra looked like they would get closer than that to holding it. Now came the moment when they would know for certain whether they still had a chance.

The morning session had gone to plan for Maharashtra. Their lower order had extended the lead past 150. Shrikant Mundhe, brought into the team as third seamer in place of Domnic Joseph because of his batting ability down the order, had scored 42. Samad Fallah and Anupam Sanklecha had bowled tight opening spells. On came Akshay Darekar, their left-arm spinner. This was their last chance. Karnataka were 17 for 0, chasing 157.

The pitch, ridden with cracks and footmarks, wasn't a pretty sight, but it had barely caused batsmen any sort of alarm for four days and a session. Had anything changed now?

Darekar's first ball was too short and too wide for that question to matter. Robin Uthappa cracked it past point for four. In the next over, Maharashtra brought on their offspinner, Chirag Khurana. Third ball of the over, Uthappa flicked him for four in front of midwicket.

Bang, bang. From day one, Karnataka had inched steadily towards victory. At times their tactics hadn't reflected their dominance. At times they looked like they had come close to giving their opponents a glimmer of hope. Now, with two dismissive strokes, Uthappa showed how illusory that hope had been.

At the other end, KL Rahul was being equally dismissive of Maharashtra's bowlers. In his case, he was telling them they couldn't work their way through or around his defensive strokes. And so it went, till the 15th over. At that point, Rahul - batting on 9 from 42 balls - came down the track and launched Khurana over mid-on's head for six. The umpires had to check if it had crossed the boundary before it bounced, but they didn't have to bother with anything of that sort the next ball, which Rahul struck even more sweetly in the same region. Khurana dropped the next ball short. Rahul cut him witheringly for four.

Darekar dismissed Uthappa the next over, and Rahul followed a little while later, edging Shrikant Mundhe to slip. Rahul trudged disconsolately off the ground, and, approaching the stairs to the Karnataka dressing room, raised his bat as if to strike its handrail, and stopped himself. He had scored a century in the first innings. He had seen off the difficult part of the chase, and left his team just 70 to get, with eight wickets in hand. He had made over a thousand runs in the season. It wasn't enough. He looked like he wanted, desperately, to be there at the end and score the winning runs.

Who would that task fall to? It wasn't to be Uthappa. It wouldn't be Amit Verma, who made 38 before Khurana dismissed him, flying to his right in his follow-through to grab hold of a fierce straight drive. Both of them had been part of Karnataka's team in the 2009-10 final, which they had lost by six runs to Mumbai.

Suhas Suresh had travelled from Bangalore to Mysore to watch that final. Now, he was in Hyderabad, waving a red and yellow flag and screaming himself hoarse. He had been there from the first ball. "Come on Manish," he yelled, in Kannada. "Finish it!"

Manish Pandey had been in that final too, four years ago. He had scored a blistering 151-ball 144 in the fourth innings, as Karnataka attempted to chase 338. Now, they needed far less. After a wild slog to the second ball he faced, Pandey had reined himself in, before hastening the end by smacking Samad Fallah for two fours in an over.

It wasn't to be Pandey either. With 10 runs needed, Karun Nair tried to reverse-sweep Khurana, and edged it for four between the stumps and the wicketkeeper. Once again Khurana skipped in. Nair skipped down the pitch. It was his first season in first-class cricket. He had scored centuries in three successive matches, leading up to the final. Now, he sent the ball soaring over the long-on boundary.

Karnataka's eleven had eight players who had experienced the heartbreak of the 2009-10 final. It also had Rahul, Nair and Shreyas Gopal, who had all established themselves in the last two seasons. And the eleven players who won the final were by no means the only ones responsible for winning the title.

In all, 19 players had played some part in their triumph, some part in an unbeaten season, in a season that had seen their team win seven matches outright, six of them on the bounce. All 19 were at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, including Stuart Binny, who had flown here from New Zealand after the end of India's one-day series. Now, everyone swooped to the middle. This was their moment.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor in ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anand on February 5, 2014, 8:12 GMT

    Congratulations Karnataka Ranji Team and the fans! You deserved this win. As a Maharashtrian, I am disappointed with the loss, but still, this is no small achievement to play well and reach the finals. I hope this serves as a start for better and consistent results in the future.

  • Ranganath on February 3, 2014, 15:44 GMT

    This Karnataka squad showed that a committed and focused TEAM effort yield's results!!! and what a result.. the Ranji Trophy after a long hiatus and some really painstaking looses in the past!! Well done and Well deserved.....

    I share the view of many ardent cricket fans that this team had many 'Christmas Stars' who rose to the occasions throughout the tournament. However, I would credit captain Vinay Kumar for giving this team the character that is needed to win tournaments like this... Willing, Hardworking and absolutely enjoying!

    I am sure this is TEAM capable of doing many more things in the coming years... Wishing them the very best for the Irani Trophy and for some guys making it to the India team..

  • NARASIMHA on February 3, 2014, 13:43 GMT

    Fantastic performance from Karnataka...Well deserved victory. Congratulations!!

  • Ashok on February 3, 2014, 12:00 GMT

    Heartbreaking to see my state lose, but Karnataka deserves the trophy. They were the most consistent team this season.

  • Android on February 3, 2014, 11:42 GMT

    well deserved victory for karnataka! the most pleasing aspect was their team work and the fact that as many as 8 different batsmen have scored 100s for them this season... hope rahul and Manish pandey represent India at some point... uthappa s trying hard but he needs some luck if he s to be selected in the future...well played guys!:)

  • Dysan on February 3, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    Great to see consistent performance from the whole team .. especially that 6 match winning streak .. even players who were rotated came to the party like they were already settled in the match condition .. Maharashtra were great till semi-finals but not up to the mark in the final, but credit to them to take it till the final day .. Very good match .. and deserving champions in Karnataka ..

  • Harish on February 3, 2014, 8:29 GMT

    Fantastic performance. Rahul and Karun Nair certainly deserve to represent India A and then hopefully India itself.Superb temperaments. Robin and Manish deserve to be in the India ODI squads.

  • VIPIN on February 3, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    as soon as one performs well in one match everybody started to cry to give him a chnace in the indian team.latest edition is manish pandey.he has was a clear failure in this year renji trophy.but he put up an average preformance in the final and evrybody decided he has the intl standard to play for the country.selectors very well know whome to be included in the team.when there are consistant players like karun nair and rahul dont cry for manish pandey

  • HNL on February 3, 2014, 7:48 GMT

    They deserved this trophy the most, having played some consistently good cricket on all sorts of surfaces at different venues across the country. Hope they will play hard and positive cricket to win the Irani Cup also to add to the glory. All the best team Karnataka, keep the party going.....

  • Srisha on February 3, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    Hearty Congratulations Karnataka on a Great win! With the national team turning in lack-lustre performances outside the country, the Ranji season provided for some great competing cricket. Deservedly, the team which performed consistently throughout on all the aspects of the game got to lift the coveted trophy. Also consistent was Vinay's ability to extricate the team from sticky situations - either through his own bowling (& batting!!) or through bold leadership decisions. Here, he proves himself much better than his much glamorous counterparts like Bhajji, Gambhir, Dinesh Kartik etc. In addition, their bench strength looks quite solid.

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