The shock discovery of the day was that Parthiv Patel had gone 158 List A matches without a hundred, but in his 159th, the Vijay Hazare Trophy final, he produced that first in style to give Gujarat their maiden title. A collapse after Parthiv's wicket had left the issue open in giving Delhi a manageable target of 274, but veteran RP Singh, playing his first match in the knockout stages, settled the matter with an opening burst of 4 for 23, which included a first-ball wicket of Rishabh Pant and later those of Shikhar Dhawan and Gautam Gambhir.
Delhi continued to trust their bowlers, and perhaps were wary of the dew in the first day-night match of the tournament, when they asked Gujarat to bat. What they got was some indifferent bowling and fielding in the face of good batting for a majority of Gujarat's innings. When they came out to bat, the ball did a bit under the lights, which RP took full advantage of.
At the top of the order, Parthiv, with a game more rounded than just square hitting when he played international cricket, has been the threat throughout with his big hitting. But in the final, he looked intent on playing the longer innings. In the earlier exchanges Gujarat targeted the lesser-experienced Navdeep Saini* and Suboth Bhati while giving Ishant Sharma due respect.
They lost Priyank Panchal and Bhargav Merai early, but even from 44 for 2 in the 10th over they kept attacking. Rujul Bhatt, who after Axar Patel has been Gujarat's best player of the tournament, danced down and slogged Bhati over midwicket for a six while Parthiv repeatedly kept tucking away runs off his hips, which he used to struggle to do in international cricket.
Parthiv and Bhatt added 149 for the third wicket, the highest for the third wicket in this tournament. Parthiv hit 10 fours, mainly through cuts and flicks off the hips. Bhatt hit four fours and a six in his 60 off 74 runs, which took his tournament tally to 338, which is the highest for Gujarat and the ninth-highest overall. They were helped along by two sets of four overthrows, various fumbles and a few clumsy dives.
To add to this, Delhi will look back at two crucial moments. Bhati came on to bowl in the 11th over, bowled beautifully in the channel outside off first ball, drew the edge from Parthiv, who was on 21, but agonisingly saw it go waist high where the first slip should have been. Immediately he looked back complainingly at Ishant at mid-on, and immediately the slip came in, but the pocked-sized horse had now bolted. Bhatt just rubbed it in by hitting a six and two fours in Bhati's first thiree overs. Manan Sharma later dropped a hard-hit return offering. Parthiv was on 67 then.
Delhi's two main slow bowlers have been Manan and Pawan negi, both left-arm spinners. Gambhir chose to hold them back as the two left-hand batsmen batted. Two offspinners introduced before these two - Nitish Rana and Milind Kumar - went for 71 in their 14 overs. In his second over Negi bowled Parthiv through the gate. This came close on the heels of Bhatt's wicket, which gave Delhi some momentum. From 193 for 2 in the 37th over, it was Chirag Gandhi's 44 off 39 and left-arm seamer Rush Kalaria's lusty blows that took a fumbling innings to 273.
Delhi came back into the chase with some hope, but RP squashed it immediately. With a generous sprinkling of grey in his beard, RP might look older than his 30, but the ball is still coming out all right from his hand. The first ball he bowled came out with the seam upright, moved in a little, and hit the top of off and middle of left-hand wicketkeeper batsman Pant. Kalaria maintained the pressure at the other end, and Dhawan eventually charged at RP to give a soft catch to cover.
The only blip on Gujarat's night arrived when Bhatt dropped Unmukt Chand off the bowling of Kalaria, but he made up for it soon enough when he accepted a low offering from Gambhir at first slip. The catch wasn't 100% clean, but a soft signal of out from the on-field umpires sealed the decision in RP's favour. Before signing off his first spell of 7-2-23-4, RP trapped Milind Kumar lbw with slight swing back in, and could have had a fifth next ball but for an inside edge from Rana.
As wickets continued to fall, the only man capable of a miraculous comeback was Chand. He played attractive shots in his 33 off 48, but once he played Jasprit Bumrah on the contest was officially over. All Negi's half-century managed to was push the score past 100. Bumrah went on to celebrate the win with an aggressive spell of 9.3-1-28-5, which included Ishant bowled by a perfect yorker after he had been peppered by bouncers and then made to wait for five minutes for the helmet to come in for the short leg.
*05.00GMT, December 29: The report had erroneously mentioned Nitin Saini. This has been corrected.