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Vidarbha clinch maiden Ranji Trophy title

Indore, Jan 1: Vidarbha clinched their maiden Ranji Trophy cricket title crushing Delhi by nine wickets on the fourth and penultimate day of their final at the Holkar Stadium here on Monday.

Vidarbha put up a huge first innings total of 547, taking a commanding lead of 252 runs before bowling out Delhi for 280 in their second innings, getting a target of merely 29 runs.

Maiden finalists Vidarbha lost only one wicket and took only five overs to chase down the target which gave them their first Ranji Trophy title.

The turnaround of the match came on Sunday afternoon when Akshay Wadkar (133) shared two crucial partnerships with Aditya Sarwate (79) and Siddhesh Neral (74) in their first innings. The stand between Wadkar and Sarwate came into effect when Vidarbha were 246/6. Wicketkeeper-batsman Wadkar and Sarwate stitched together an important partnership of 169.

Then Wadkar joined hands with Neral as they took Vidarbha to 528 for seven at stumps on Sunday. On Monday morning, Wadkar, who struck his maiden first-class century, got out to Kulwant Khejroliya without adding any run to his overnight score, ending a stand of 132 runs for the eighth wicket.

Neral, who resumed batting at his score of 56, extended his knock with couple of fours before pacer Navdeep Saini had him caught by wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant as Vidarbha were bowled out for 547.

Trailing by 252 runs, it was always going to be a stiff task for Delhi. Vidarbha further got a sniff of victory when they reduced the capital side to 50/2. While Kunal Chandela fell to spiner Akshay Wakhare (4/95), veteran Gautam Gambhir was dismissed by a debatable LBW verdict in favour of medium pacer Rajneesh Gurbani (2/92).

Left-hander Gambhir played an uncharacteristic Test innings. He took the attack to the opposition, scoring run-a-ball 36 before his dismissal.

The responsibility fell on Nitish Rana (64) and Dhruv Shorey (62). The pair did well to forge a partnership of 114 runs. While Nitish played a calculative knock, Shorey’s innings was all about dogged approach.

Left-arm spinner Sarwate (3/30) broke the stand when first-innings century-maker Shorey edged to Wadkar while trying to play a cut shot.

Gurbani returned to remove Nitish, whose drove shot was not timed rightly and ended in the hands of Wadkar.

Wakhare bowled Himmat Singh (0) to further dent Delhi’s hopes. Then Neral got the prized wicket of captain Pant as Delhi lost their sixth wicket for 222 runs.

Wakhare then accounted for Manan Sharma (8) before Wakhare saw the back of Nitin Saini (5).

Sarwate dismissed a resisting Vikas Mishra (34) to put the result beyond doubt. Sarwate got his third wicket in the form of Akash Sudan (18) to bring an end to Delhi’s second innings.

A target of 29 was easily overhauled by Vidarbha. Captain Faiz Fazal (2) was the lone batsman to be dismissed. Veteran Wasim Jaffer (17 not out) hit the winning runs with Sanjay Ramaswamy at the other end.

Brief scores: Delhi: 295 and 280 all out in second innings (Nitish Rana 64, Dhruv Shorey 62; Akshay Wakhare 4/95, Aditya Sarwate 3/30). Vidarbha: 547 all out in first innings (Akshay Wadkar 133, Aditya Sarwate 79, Wasim Jaffer 78, Siddhesh Neral 74, Faiz Fazal 67; Navdeep Saini 5/135, Akash Sudan 2/102) and 32/1 (Wasim Jaffer 17 not out; Kulwant Khejroliya 1/21) on Day 4.

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