Monday’s Ranji Trophy marks Mumbai’s 40th triumph in 44 appearances. In the concluding segment of the four-part series, Arunabha Sengupta briefly sketches the Mumbai wins in the history of the tournament.
1984-85: Bombay versus Delhi
A gripping contest in an era normally dominated by tall first innings scores.
Captain Madan Lal, Sunil Valson and Manoj Prabhakar, forming a useful pace attack, snapped out one quick wicket apiece after Bombay had won the toss and opted to bat. From 42 for three, Bombay fought back through a determined fourth wicket partnership between Sandeep Patil and the skipper Sunil Gavaskar.
Coming in at No 5, Gavaskar continued to enjoy substantial collaborations with Ravi Shastri and Chandrakant Pandit, before Madan Lal breached his defence just after he reached yet another hundred. Maninder Singh looked threatening, but the lower order stuck to the task, and the final score of 333 could be considered a pretty good recovery.
A blistering spell by Raju Kulkarni reduced Delhi to 65 for four, and when Shastri got rid of a promising Prabhakar, it became 87 for five.
However, veteran opener Chetan Chauhan refused to give in. And at the other end, Madan Lal was at his fighting best. The sixth wicket put on 104. Chauhan fell characteristically for 98, missing yet another century by a whisker. Madan Lal got a snick at 78 to make it 268 for seven. Bombay seemed to inch towards the all-important first innings lead.
But the young Ajay Sharma, in his first season, produced a superb innings. Batting with the tail with remarkable poise, he added 43 with Maninder Singh, whose contribution was just three. The ninth wicket went down with Delhi still three runs behind the Bombay total. Amidst great excitement, Sharma steered Delhi past the first big hurdle.
He was not done. With Valson playing a gritty innings, he now flayed the bowlers to all parts of the ground and proceeded to add 68 for the last wicket, before being the last man out for 131.
Behind by 65 runs, and with more than a couple of days to go, Bombay did not surrender. A couple of wickets went down quickly, but Lalchand Rajput and Patil prepared a solid platform. Gavaskar came in to make a crisp half century. Pandit was at his cheekiest best and Shastri used the long handle to excellent effect. Gavaskar declared after setting a nice round target of 300 for an outright win. And when Delhi ended the fourth day at 51 without loss, it looked likely that they would either cruise to a win or bat out the day hanging on to the first-innings lead.
It was now that Ravi Shastri produced the best spell of his long career. One after another, the Delhi batsmen fell to this towering left-arm spinner. Gursharan Singh was trapped leg before by the off-break of Kiran Mokashi, and Madan Lal was run out. Shastri claimed rest of the wickets. With the wicket turning on the final day, the two spinners bowled 73 overs between them, with Rajput also chipping in occasionally. Only Bhaskar Pillai managed to resist with a solid half-century. Shastri finished with eight for 91. The last six wickets were lost for 38 runs and Delhi folded for 209.
Brief scores: Bombay 333 (SM Gavaskar 106, SM Patil 54, CS Pandit 49; Madan Lal 4 for 42) and 364-7 declared (Patil 57, LS Rajput 63, Gavaskar 64, RJ Shastri 76, Pandit 44; Maninder Singh 4 for 132) beat Delhi 398 (AK Sharma 131,CPS Chauhan 98, Madan Lal 78; RR Kulkarni 5 for 106, Shastri 4 for 95) and 209 (Chauhan 54, M Prabhakar 44, Bhaskar Pillai 60; Shastri 8 for 91) by 90 runs.
1993-94: Bombay versus Bengal
On the first day, Sairaj Bahutule and Patel turned the ball enough to trouble every batsman. Only Arun Lal managed a decent score as Bengal was spun out for 193. Chatterjee struck back immediately with two wickets to keep Bombay down to 18 for two at the end of the first day.
The following morning, he bowled his heart out, but lacked support from the other end. Young Amol Mazumdar batted resolutely, scoring smoothly off Prashant Vaidya and the part time off-breaks of Ajay Varma. Chatterjee’s seven for 71 could not prevent a 63-run lead.
Patel, Bahutule and Shastri now quickly reduced Bengal to 33 for four, but Ashok Malhotra counter-attacked for 62 and Sourav Ganguly batted with the tail to take the total to 257.
The target of 195 looked steep on the difficult surface, but opener Sunil More batted well. Bahutule, with fresh confidence from his seven wickets in the match, was promoted to number three to negate the left-arm spin of Chatterjee, and did his job magnificently. In the end the chase hardly raised a sweat.
Brief scores: Bengal 193 (J Arun Lal 62, SC Ganguly 40; SV Bahutule 4 for 49 , MP Patel 4 for 59) and 257 (AO Malhotra 62, Ganguly 80) lost to Bombay 256 (AA Mazumdar 78; US Chatterjee 7 for 71) and 195 for 2 (SS More 83*, Bahutule 40, JP Paranjape 44*) by 8 wickets.
1994-95: Bombay versus Punjab
Sachin Tendulkar won the toss and Bombay finished the first day on 257 for one, with Samir Dighe and Sanjay Manjrekar posting hundreds. However, with captain Navjot Sidhu, Vikram Rathore and Pankaj Dharmani in the Punjab side, and the Wankhede wicket looking a graveyard for the bowlers, the intention was to go on much longer and bat the visitors out of the match.
The next morning, Dighe fell early, but Manjrekar continued in the same vein to register his double hundred. Tendulkar drove the crowd wild with a scintillating 140. And Vinod Kambli, walking in at 513 for three, flung his bat around to blast a furious hundred. As many as 412 runs were scored on the second day. It was pity, perhaps, which induced Tendulkar to declare at 690 for six.
The pitch was perfect, but the total would take some beating against a bowling attack comprising of Abey Kuruvilla, Salil Ankola, Paras Mhambrey, Nilesh Kulkarni and Sairaj Bahutule. At one stage, with Rathour and Sidhu going great guns, Punjab on course at 317 for two. But, late on the third day, Sidhu snicked one from Bahutule. The next morning, seven remaining wickets were lost for 50 runs.
Having bowled 115 overs and the pitch still playing beautifully, Tendulkar decided not to enforce follow on. He lowered himself down the order to No 6, but even then ended up blasting 139, adding 170 rollicking runs with Bahutule who hammered 103.
Punjab played out time by adding some more runs on the final afternoon.
Brief scores: Bombay 690-6 declared (SS Dighe 137, SV Manjrekar 224, SR Tendulkar 140, VG Kambli 107*; S Sharma 4 for 155) and 513-6 declared (AA Mazumdar 69, Kambli 64, Tendulkar 139, SV Bahutule 103*) beat Punjab 372 (V Rathour 177, NS Sidhu 108) and 141 for 2 (A Mehra 60*, P Dharmani 65*) on the basis of the innings lead.
1996-97: Mumbai versus Delhi
Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy for the first time after the city and side came to be known by the new name.
In a tall scoring yawn of a match, Jatin Paranjape and Mazumdar hit hundreds and several managed fifties as Mumbai piled up 630. And when Delhi batted Ashu Dani and captain Ajay Sharma added 313 for the third wicket.
At 365 for two at the end of the fourth day, Delhi looked the favourites. They did so even at 506 for four. However, two run outs and some steady bowling by Nilesh Kulkarni induced panic in the Delhi late order and they fell away for 559. This was the first Ranji final played under lights.
Brief scores: Mumbai 630 (W Jaffer 58, JV Paranjape 111, AA Mazumdar 144, SV Manjrekar 78, VG Kambli 89, SV Bahutule 44) beat Delhi 559 (R Lamba 42, A Dani 178, AK Sharma 176, N Chopra 43, NM Kulkarni 4 for 143) on the basis of first innings lead.
1999-2000: Mumbai versus Hyderabad
An encounter between class and artistry. Tendulkar and Kambli against Mohammad Azharuddin and VVS Laxman.
A typical Kambli hundred and a furious fifty by Tendulkar, aided by a stubborn 75 by Mhambrey helped Mumbai to 376. In response, the crowd was treated to a delightful two way demonstration of magical wristwork. Azhar and Laxman put on 89 for the third wicket, but none of the other Hyderabad is survived long enough, and 195 seemed puny in reply.
And in the second innings, Tendulkar took on the crafty spin of Venkatapathy Raju and Kanwaljit Singh and blasted 13 fours and three sixes during a 124-ball 128.
The target, 591, was always beyond wildest dreams. But VVS Laxman produced a gem of a hundred, and at 198 for one, hopes of a miracle did soar for a while. The slow left arm spin of Rajesh Pawar played spoilsport, getting rid of the artist and then six other Hyderabad batsmen and the winning margin was a huge 297 runs.
Brief scores: Mumbai 376 (SR Tendulkar 53, VG Kambli 108, PL Mhambrey 75; SLV Raju 4 for 110) and 409 (SS Dighe 46, W Jaffer 55, JV Paranjape 42, Tendulkar 128, Kambli 56; Raju 5 for 123, Kanwaljit Singh 4 for 136) beat Hyderabad 195 ( VVS Laxman 46, M Azharuddin 76) and 293 (DS Manohar 71, Laxman 111; RV Pawar 7 for 103) by 297 runs.
2002-03: Mumbai versus Tamil Nadu
Buoyed by some excellent batting by Test class left-handers, Sadagoppan Ramesh and Hemnag Badani, Tamil Nadu clinched a slim 11-run first innings lead.
However, with the Wankhede wicket taking turn, the visitors were hampered by the lack of a quality spinner. That pillar of Mumbai top order, Wasim Jaffer scored 98. Nishit Shetty played one of the most important knocks of his life. Ramesh Powar threw his bat around aggressively to get a fifty. Mumbai set a target of 377 for an outright win.
With Badani and Badrinath looking good at the end of the fourth day, an even contest looked likely when play resumed on the last morning. Badani battled to a century, but Bahutule and Powar made full use of the last day pitch. None of the last six Tamil Nadu batsmen reached double figures and Mumbai triumphed by 141 runs.
Brief scores: Mumbai 260 (W Jaffer 83) and 387-7 declared (Jaffer 98, N Shetty 100, BJ Thakkar 66, RR Powar 53) beat Tamil Nadu 271 (S Ramesh 85, S Badrinath 42, H Badani 56; AB Agarkar 4 for 57) and 235 (Badani 109, S Suresh 44; SV Bahutule 5 for 70) by 141 runs.
2003-04: Mumbai versus Tamil Nadu
Dinesh Karthik hit 16 boundaries and a six in his unbeaten 109 to lift Tamil Nadu from 123 for five to 294 against some excellent left-arm spin of Nilesh Kulkarni. However, by the end of the second day, Mumbai were 236 without loss, with Vinayak Mane and Wasim Jaffer having already posted hundreds.
Amol Mazumdar joined the party the next morning with a big hundred, and Bahutule missed his by just eight runs. Mumbai batted well into the fourth day to score over 600.
On the final morning, for a while the hosts were in danger of outright defeat, but Badrinath and Badani stitched together an unbeaten partnership of 173 to ensure a draw.
Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 294 (KD Karthik 109*, S Sriram 51; NM Kulkarni 6 for 83) and 353 for 4 (V Sivaramakrishnan 70, S Badrinath 110*, H Badani 77*) lost to Mumbai 613 (VR Mane 106, W Jaffer 133, AA Mazumdar 146, VG Kambli 55, SV Bahutule 92) on first innings.
2006-07: Mumbai versus Bengal
Ranadeb Bose captured two quick wickets, but then Wasim Jaffer and Sachin Tendulkar added 187. Tendulkar’s 105 came off just 129 balls, studded with 19 boundaries. Jaffer was fourth out for 268, after a more sedate 112, but the rest of the batting folded as Bose picked up a couple of late order wickets as well.
The total of 320, however, looked enormous when Zaheer Khan rattled the top order, bowling Sourav Ganguly for a duck and reducing Bengal to 28 for four. Manoj Tiwari helped them partially recover to 143.
Almost all the Mumbai batsmen got starts in the second innings, and a total of 294 meant a near-impossible target of 472. Tiwari and Ganguly got 90s, but Bengal fell well short.
Brief scores: Mumbai 320 (W Jaffer 112, SR Tendulkar 105; RR Bose 4 for 77) and 294 (Jaffer 53, RG Sharma 57, Tendulkar 43; Bose 5 for 71) beat Bengal 143 (MK Tiwari 42, Z Khan 5 for 40) and 339 (DB Dasgupta 57, Tiwari 94, SC Ganguly 90; Zaheer Khan 4 for 119) by 132 runs.
2008-09: Mumbai versus Uttar Pradesh
Sachin Tendulkar failed twice, but it did not matter to Mumbai with the large reserves of power in constant supply. Rohit Sharma batted five and a half hours for 141 and Abhishek Nayar missed a well-deserved hundred by one solitary run.
When Uttar Pradesh batted, Shivakant Shukla scored the second 99 of the match, but the rest of the batting found Zaheer Khan’s pace too hot to handle.
Leading by 157 in the first innings, Vinayak Samant and Wasim Jaffer almost doubled the lead during their first wicket stand. Following this, Rohit Sharma raced to his second century of the match, a much brisker effort this time.
On the last day, Mohammad Kaif and Bhuvaneshwar Singh added 112 for the fourth wicket, but rookie medium pacer Dhawal Kulkarni blasted five Uttar Pradesh batsmen out. Mumbai won outright with just about an hour to spare.
Brief scores: Mumbai 402 (RG Sharma 141, AM Nayar 99, AB Agarkar 47; B Singh 5 for 75) and 367 (VR Samant 113, W Jaffer 85, RG Sharma 108;PP Chawla 4 for 94) beat Uttar Pradesh 245 (SS Shukla 99, B Singh 41; Zaheer Khan 7 for 54) and 281 (Mohammad Kaif 71, B Kumar 80; DS Kulkarni 5 for 76) by 243 runs.
2009-10: Mumbai versus Karnataka
A battling 67 by wicketkeeper Vinayak Samant managed to give the Mumbai innings some respectability. The first innings ended at 233 against some hostile pace of Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun. But, Mumbai did not flinch. As fourteen wickets fell on the second day, Avishkar Salvi destroyed the Karnataka batting to rout them for 130.
Mithun and Kumar got into the act again in the Mumbai second innings, erasing half the side for 51. But, Abhishek Nayar boldly resisted for a half century, and Dhawal Kulkarni, whose highest score till then had been 28, played the innings of his life, slamming 17 boundaries in an extraordinary 87 before guiding a short ball to gully.
The target of 338 looked steep, especially when Agarkar induced captain Robin Uthappa to edge one to make it 46 for three. But, then came a rollicking knock of 144 by Manish Pandey, flailing the attack without restraint with nothing in the world to lose. With Ganesh Satish hanging on with a defiant defensive knock at the other end, Pandey blasted 18 fours and a six in a 151 ball innings that turned the match on its head.
When he edged left arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla to slip, Karnataka were 255 for four – in sight of a phenomenal win.
Abdulla picked up another quick wicket, and when Satish went back after being trapped plumb by a Kulkarni in cutter, the match had turned again. Sunil Joshi and Stuart Binny now inched closer. When the second new ball was taken, Karnataka were 47 runs away with four wickets in hand.
However, the new ball proved decisive. A stunning out-swinger from Kulkarni got rid of Binny by pitching on the middle and taking off. Joshi snicked a drive off Agarkar soon after. Vinay Kumar charged out and plonked two boundaries to get Karnataka closer, but a devious in-cutter from Kulkarni rattled his stumps.
In the same over, Sreenath Aravind swiped a four with a typical tail-ender’s slog. And off the final ball, he was dropped at gully by Ajinkya Rahane.
But, four balls later, with just seven to win, Aravind hit one back to Agarkar and the veteran bowler hung on to it as if his life depended on it. Mumbai had clinched it by six runs.
Brief scores: Mumbai 233 (VR Samant 67, R Vinay Kumar 4 for 61) and 234 (AM Nayar 50, DS Kulkarni 87, A Mithun 6 for 71) beat Karnataka 130 (AM Salvi 5 for 31) and 331 (G Satish 75, MK Pandey 144, AB Agarkar 5 for 81) by 6 runs.
And the 40th …
2012-13: Mumbai versus Saurashtra
Only two Saurashtra batsmen reached double figures in the second innings against a blistering pace attack launched by Dhawal Kulkarni and Ajit Agarkar. In the end 82 all out seemed quite commendable after being reduced to 20 for six at one stage.
One wonders whether it would have been a more balanced encounter if Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja had been available. But then, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma were also away on national duty, in curiously symmetric plight – one turning out for India and the other honing his talents by carrying drinks and towels under watchful BCCI eyes.
Sachin Tendulkar was run out for 22, a tragic dismissal in what will perhaps turn out to be his last Ranji Trophy innings, but in the end he walked away smiling – delighted with another Mumbai triumph. Wasim Jaffer scored a hundred yet again, another sparkling chapter in a tale of yeoman’s service. The final result – victory by an innings and 125 runs – underlined the lack of contest. It is also symbolic of the near unchallenged supremacy of Mumbai in the context of the history of the championship.
Brief scores: Saurashtra 148 (AV Vasavada 55, Dhawal Kulkarni 4 for 24) and 82 (AB Agarkar 4 for 15, Dhawal Kulkarni 5 for 32) lost to Mumbai 355 (W Jaffer 132, HN Shah 55, AA Chavan 41) by an innings and 125 runs.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)