Sourav Ganguly (Courtesy: Getty Images)
Sourav Ganguly (Courtesy: Getty Images)

Bengal lifted the Ranji Trophy for the second time in 1989-90. It was only fitting that Sourav Ganguly, later to become the greatest son of Bengal cricket, would make his First-Class debut in that match. Ganguly was picked at the insistence of captain Sambaran Banerjee, who had insisted on a third seamer on a helpful Calcutta pitch. He also cited the example of Sachin Tendulkar, who, despite being of Sourav’s age, had made his Test debut a few months ago. Sambaran had insisted on the inclusion of uncapped Saradindu Mukherjee in the semi-final against Hyderabad. On a track where Hyderabad had picked three off-spinners (Shivlal Yadav, Arshad Ayub, and Kanwaljit Singh), Sambaran insisted Bengal had an off-spinner of their own. The rest was history: Saradindu took a hat-trick on First-Class debut, and Hyderabad were knocked out.

Saradindu’s success in the semi-final encouraged the selectors to give in to Sambaran’s request. Unfortunately, Sourav replaced his elder brother Snehasish. He also became the 250th cricketer to play for Bengal. The bowling bit did not work out, for Sourav bowled only 6 wicketless overs. A strong Delhi side was bowled out for 278 by Dattatreya Mukherjee and Rajiv Seth, Bengal’s new-ball bowlers, who took 3 wickets apiece. Captain Kirti Azad scored 93 of these runs. In response, Bengal lost openers Pranab Roy and IB Roy with a mere 18 runs on the board. Sourav Ganguly walked out to bat for the first time in First-Class cricket. At the other end was Arun Lal, Bengal’s star batsman of the tournament.

Delhi’s new-ball attack featured Manoj Prabhakar, then already a star for India, and Atul Wassan, who had already made his Test debut. The support cast consisted of four other Test cricketers — Maninder Singh, Sanjeev Sharma, Ajay Sharma, and Azad himself. Ganguly hit four delectable boundaries to waltz his way to 22 before edging one to wicketkeeper Mohan Chaturvedi off Prabhakar. He had dominated the 37-run stand with Arun Lal.

Bengal lost Ashok Malhotra (whose 258* played a crucial role in Bengal’s semi-final win) soon, but Arun Lal found a partner in Raja Venkat. The two took the score to 176 for 4 amidst rain breaks before Day Five was completely washed out. Delhi’s poor over rate meant that Bengal were awarded 40 penalty runs (4 points for every over). Bengal finished on 216 for 4, which gave them a quotient of 54 (216 divided by 4), which was substantially more than Delhi’s 27.8 (278/10). Bengal thus won their second Ranji title.