Mumbai 613 drew with Tamil Nadu 294 and 353 for 4 (Badrinath 110*, Badani 77*) and won the Ranji Trophy by virtue of a first-innings lead
Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy - a staggering 36th triumph - by virtue of their first-innings lead, as their final against Tamil Nadu petered out to a tortuous draw. Any hopes of a competitive match had ended on the third day, so by the close of the fifth, Tamil Nadu's batsmen were consoling themselves with personal milestones.
Subramanium Badrinath crawled to his fourth century of the season - without doubt the least meaningful of the lot - and Hemang Badani was equally painstaking in compiling an unbeaten 77, as Mumbai's part-time bowlers sent down 49 overs between them. Their season had long resembled a walk in the park, but in the final session of the day, they took it literally. At least Vinayak Samanth, the wicketkeeper, ensured that nobody dozed off completely with his bursts of raucous appealing, although on most occasions, the bat was nowhere close to the ball.
Badrinath took 37 balls to move from 98 to his hundred, and a soporofic air enveloped the empty stadium. Barring a flurry of boundaries after lunch, the scoring rate was largely stagnant. Badani's innings was the antithesis of his century in the previous year's final, which had given his team a faint chance of victory. This time the match was already long gone.
Badrinath and Badani's partnership lasted for 349 pride-salvaging minutes, and came after Sadagoppan Ramesh had fallen plumb lbw in the fifth over of the morning (180 for 4). But at least Tamil Nadu redeemed themselves after their shoddy showing in the first innings. "We had a great chance to put up a big score after winning the toss," admitted their dejected captain, Somasetty Suresh. "We also had the home conditions favouring us. It was a really disappointing show on the first day. We learnt a lot when Mumbai batted and showed so much application. We tried to bat like that in our second innings and we did that pretty well. But it was all too late."
Having backed their batting strength and prepared a shirt-front of a pitch, Tamil Nadu lost the game on the very first day. From a spectator's point of view, the match finished on the third, after Mumbai ground Tamil Nadu out of the contest. After witnessing this drab encounter, the need for sporting pitches could hardly be more pressing, but with the notable exception of Dinesh Karthik, Tamil Nadu's batsmen simply gave the final away.
For Mumbai, though, it was a culmination of a great couple of years. As soon as play was called off, there were shouts and huddles all around. Like a philatelist adding one more to his collection, they neatly pouched their 36th stamp - a full 30 more than their nearest rivals, Delhi and Karnataka.