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Feature

Six stars from Madhya Pradesh's Ranji Trophy winning season

Dubey, Kartikeya, Patidar, Raghuwanshi, Gaurav Yadav and Shubham Sharma all made crucial contributions

Afzal Jiwani
Afzal Jiwani
26-Jun-2022
The winning moment: Madhya Pradesh players are ecstatic after winning their maiden Ranji Trophy title, Madhya Pradesh vs Mumbai, Ranji Trophy final 2021-22, Bangalore, June 26, 2022

The winning moment: Madhya Pradesh players are ecstatic after winning their maiden Ranji Trophy title  •  PTI

Twenty-three years after falling short of winning their first Ranji Trophy title ever, Madhya Pradesh finally managed to script history on Sunday when they beat Mumbai. Chandrakant Pandit, the man who captained them in 1998-99, managed to complete a circle of sorts as he laid hands on the coveted trophy as coach. In line with his coaching philosophy of how titles aren't won by individuals, the MP team, missing a few important players like Avesh Khan and Venkatesh Iyer - away on national duty - found several other heroes
In 28 first-class innings since debuting four years ago, Yash Dubey hadn't opened until midway through the 2021-22 season. A sprightly 85 against Meghalaya at No. 7 happened to be the springboard for his elevation as the team's opener. And in his very first outing in the new role, Dubey made a career-best 289 against Kerala in a must-win game. But the best was perhaps reserved for the last, his first-innings century in the final helping MP squeeze Mumbai. He was one of five batters to have made over 600 runs this season. He ended with 614 runs at an average of 76.75 with two centuries.
Having left home nine years ago to "achieve something in life," Kumar Kartikeya is set to finally return to his hometown in Uttar Pradesh as an IPL player and a Ranji champion. In his very first game this season, Kartikeya left a mark against Gujarat by picking up a match-winning five-for while defending 194. A breakthrough IPL season later - he first joined Mumbai Indians as a net bowler and was later drafted into the main squad following an injury to Arshad Khan - Kartikeya returned for the Ranji Trophy knockouts and made heads turn. He picked up six wickets to knock Punjab out of the quarter-final. He continued his stellar bowling and picked up a five-for against Bengal to lead MP into only their second Ranji final. He bowled only traditional left-arm orthodox, unlike in the IPL where he was known to mix in all of his wristspinning variations, Kartikeya's 32 scalps made him the second-highest wicket-taker this season.
May 25: First uncapped player to hit an IPL ton in a playoff game. June 25: Memorable century to help MP set up a match-winning first-innings lead in the Ranji final. The runs keep flowing for Patidar, who only in April was sitting at home and wondering what he'd done wrong. Then, an IPL call-up came his way when Royal Challengers Bangalore needed a replacement and life hasn't been the same since. IPL form aside, Patidar crossed fifty in every innings barring one, in the semi-final. With five half-centuries and two hundreds, Patidar was second in the season's run charts behind Mumbai's Sarfaraz Khan.
The 18-year-old has been touted by many as the find of MP this season. A stroke maker in the middle order, Raghuwanshi had struggled to even nail down a spot in the state's under-19 team until Pandit, who had heard of him from someone, watched him bat live in a practice game that he was umpiring in. Having turned down a plumb lbw appeal that would've sent him back for a duck, the coach saw Raghuwanshi smash 165. He was immediately summoned to the senior squad, and here he is, finishing with a century and three half-centuries, including a momentum changing knock in the semi-final, in his maiden Ranji season.
If batters win you games, bowlers win you championships. With Avesh away on India duty, Gaurav Yadav was given a long run this season, and he impressed with his swing and seam even on the most docile pitches. Few that were there can forget the spell to Prithvi Shaw on the opening morning of the final, where he beat both the inside and outside edge five times in a single over before eventually having him clean bowled. Yadav finished as MP's leading wicket-taker among seamers and the fourth-best overall.
He finished with 608 runs at an average of 76. This includes four hundreds, thereby confirming his appetite for big runs. He started the season with a 92 against Gujarat and ended it with a hundred when it mattered the most. Adding 222 runs with Dubey, he gave Mumbai a taste of its own medicine in batting long and scoring big. Although he couldn't stay on to hit the winning runs, he had done enough to make sure his team was miles ahead of the opposition even on the final day.

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