“Yes, shaving off my beard on the third day morning was a part of superstition as beard was unlucky yesterday”, said an elated Abhishek Nayar on the third day of the Ranji Trophy 2015/16 when Mumbai trumped Saurashtra in the final match of the tournament to put their hands on the cup for the 41st time in the history. But that was not the case on January 14.
Nayar didn’t shave off his beard on the fifth day morning and the result is here, Gujarat defeated Mumbai to win the Ranji Trophy cup for the first time in the history of the tournament.
It was a day dominated by Gujarat, leaving the two early jitters provided by Balwinder Singh Sandhu (jr.). The fast-bowler with his short run-up was bowling exactly between batsmen’s off stump and fourth stump, not allowing them to open their arms. A little bit of rejig while bowling the delivery and the change churned out benefits for him as he came up with a wicket on the second ball of the day he bowled. He continued to make changes in the same way as he swung the ball both ways and followed with another wicket of Bhargav Merai.
Once again the game was in the middle with both the teams having an equal chance of winning it and then came the moment of the day that wrote the script as Manprit Juneja joined his skipper Parthiv Patel in the middle. This was the partnership that changed the course of the game as these two batsmen batted for next 35 overs, carrying their team from a total of 89 to 205, not just to dismantle hopes of Mumbai to retain the cup, which can be called as their deposit, but also helped their team see their dreams being fulfilled.
When Juneja departed on a score of 54 with team floating on 205, Gujarat looked a little bit frightened again as there is always a fear of being trampled by big force in the game but skipper Parthiv Patel showed that it was his day. The 31-year-old batsman batted like a star as he was the man who made the difference.
At tea, both teams went in for a customary break with Gujarat needing just 27 runs with six wickets in hands and it was just matter of time when they came out and made those runs to clinch their maiden Ranji title. Though, they lost the wicket of Parthiv Patel, who would have loved to stay there until the end.
This was probably second biggest upset for Mumbai in past five years, with the first one being suffering a loss against Jammu and Kashmir in the first game of Ranji Trophy 2014/15.
The faces of Mumbai players and their expressions highlighted the summary of the day. Down faces, frustrated acts on the field and a clear line of tension on the forehead of Mumbai players were self-revealing.
This win of Gujarat over Mumbai will be remembered for years to come.