Vidarbha 269 for 5 (Satish 87, Taide 72, Sanjay 42, Chahar 2-116) and 425 beat Rest of India 330 and 374 for 3 decl on first-innings lead
Hanuma Vihari may have struck two magnificent centuries in the Irani Cup tie, but it was overshadowed by Vidarbha's collective effort, which helped them trump Rest of India and lift the trophy for the second season in a row.
When the two teams shook hands with Vidarbha needing only 11 runs to win the match - they had five wickets in hand - they not only won the trophy on offer, but also completed the double of winning the Ranji Trophy and the Irani Cup for the second season in a row, much to the delight of a sizeable Saturday crowd at Nagpur's VCA Stadium.
Vidarbha started the day on 37 for one, still 243 runs adrift on a final-day pitch that wasn't getting any easier to bat on. But in 18-year-old Atharva Taide - a late injury replacement for Wasim Jaffer - they found the right man to anchor the innings through the first session. His 72, together with R Sanjay's 42, ensured Vidarbha stayed rock solid early on, and then under the baking sun that took a lot out of the RoI bowlers, they cashed in. Their 116-run stand for the second wicket wiped out a large chunk of the target.
Taide carried on to score 72, and Ganesh Satish, the only professional in the side in Jaffer's absence, then steered the chase to the end, falling for 87 with Vidarbha inches short of the target - the teams agreed to call off the game at that point - and walked off to raucous applause. Wicketkeeper-batsman Akshay Wadkar remained unbeaten when the contest ended.
Earlier, Sanjay and Taide displayed patience as well as skill to help Vidarbha dominate proceedings. Taide struck two boundaries off fast bowler Ankit Rajpoot - one a measured tickle down to fine-leg, the other a tentative push through the slip cordon - to begin the day's boundary count. Sanjay, at the other end, bunted whatever was aimed at the stumps, while happily leaving the ones that were not.
The first six of the innings came just before the first drinks break, when Taide came down the track to play legspinner Rahul Chahar with the turn. After the break, Sanjay joined in, smacking left-arm pacer Tanveer-ul-Haq through the covers for four and then, when left-arm spinner Dharmendrasingh Jadeja was introduced, smashed one straight into the sightscreen.
Ajinkya Rahane, the RoI captain, brought in an attacking field for the spinners thereafter, hoping, perhaps, for the batsmen to err in judgment and play a false shot, but that spell of play was carefully negated too. And in the 41st over of the innings, a single to long-off brought up Taide's second first-class half-century.
It was important for the young Taide not to lose his focus after reaching the landmark, and he didn't, continuing to offer the straight bat to the full deliveries from the spinners, and padding away the ones that pitched outside leg stump. But Sanjay, the senior partner, couldn't carry on as he was trapped lbw eight runs short of his half-century when a quicker one from Chahar slid into his pads.
Taide and Satish then added 30 more runs before the youngster fell lbw to Chahar, and Satish proceeded to put up 83 more for the fourth wicket in the company of Mohit Kale in the afternoon. The two looked set to finish the session unseparated, but Kale was dismissed off the final ball before tea.
After the break, Wadkar held up one end while Satish opened up, perhaps with an eye on a possible century. Two boundaries off Chahar brought the target down to only 11 but Satish fell trying to pull part-timer Vihari over the midwicket boundary, only to hole out to substitute fielder Sandeep Warrier in the deep. Though there was enough time left for Vidarbha to record an outright win, the two teams agreed to call it off.
The chase wasn't supposed to be easy. On the fourth evening, Vidarbha had lost their captain Faiz Fazal for a duck after Vihari - together with Ajinkya Rahane and Shreyas Iyer - had helped get to a declaration on 374 for three - a lead of 279.
That Vidarbha had nearly a 100-run advantage after the first-innings exchanges was thanks to allrounder Akshay Karnewar, later named the Man of the Match. He struck the team's only century of the match to rescue Vidarbha after they were 168 for five in response to RoI's first-innings score of 330. Wadkar, too, struck a crucial 73 while Sanjay chipped in with 65 to take them to 425, and Vidarbha were assured of victory if the game ended in a draw.
RoI had to push for a result in their favour after that, but it wasn't to be. In the absence of offspinner K Gowtham, who didn't bowl after the second day because of a shoulder injury, their largely inexperienced attack could not find the purchase from the pitch they would have hoped for. Add to that some smart batting from Vidarbha's top order on the final day, and only one result was possible.