Twenty-three years after losing the chance to win the first Ranji Trophy title, Madhya Pradesh finally won it by beating Mumbai on Sunday. Manish Chandrakant Pandit, the coach who captained them in 1998-99, completed a circle of sorts by receiving the coveted trophy. His coaching philosophy says that titles aren’t won by individuals. The MP team, missing some key players like Avesh Khan and Venkatesh Iyer because of their national duty, found other heroes to succeed.
A sprightly 85 against Meghalaya at the No. 7 position was the springboard for Yash Dubey’s elevation as the team’s opener after 28 first-class innings since debuting four years ago. Against Kerala in his very first appearance in his new role, Dubey scored 289 in a must-win game, while his century in the final helped MP beat Mumbai. The batter was one of five batters to reach 600 runs this season, finishing with 614 runs at 76.75 average with two centuries.
Kumar Kartikeya, who left his hometown in Uttar Pradesh nine years ago to “achieve something in life,” may return to his hometown as an IPL player and a Ranji champion. Against Gujarat, Kartikeya left a mark with a match-winning five-for while defending 194. After a breakthrough IPL season in which he initially joined Mumbai Indians as a net bowler and later got drafted into the main squad after Arshad Khan suffered an injury, Kartikeya returned for the Ranji Trophy knockouts and made headlines. Punjab were knocked out of the quarter-final by his six wickets. As he continued his stellar bowling against Bengal, he took five wickets to take MP into only their second Ranji final. Despite bowling only traditional left-arm orthodox and not all of his wrist spin variations as in the IPL, Karthikeya’s 32 scalps were second-most this season.
Sanju Samson became the first uncapped player to hit an IPL ton in a playoff game on May 25. June 25: Ground memorable century to help MP create a one-run lead during the first innings of the Ranji Final. It seems the run-game the least of Patidar’s problems because, not too long ago, he was at home worrying. He had nothing better to do until an opportunity with the Royal Challengers Bangalore arrived and it made life totally worth it. Removing IPL form from the equation, Patidar has scored fifty-plus in every innings but one in the semi-final, having also recorded five half-centuries and two hundreds during the season, as second-best only to Mumbai’s Sarfaraz Khan in the run charts.
This 18-year-old is considered by many to be MP’s best find this season. Pandit had heard of Raghuwanshi from someone and watched Raghuwanshi bat live in a practice game that he was umpiring during which Raghuwanshi struggled to even secure a spot on the state’s under-19 team. When Raghuwanshi turned down a plumb lbw appeal, which would have sent him back for a duck, the coach saw him smash 165. His first Ranji season ended with a century and three half-centuries, including a momentum-changing knock in the semi-final.
While Avesh was on India duty, Gaurav Yadav was given a long run in this season, and he was impressed with his swing and seam even on the docile pitches. In the final, there are few who can forget the spell Shaun Marsh delivered to Prithvi Shaw, where he beat both the inside and outside edge five times in a single over before bowling him. Yadav finished fourth overall in the top wicket-taker standings and the top seamer among MP’s seamers.
With a total of 608 runs, including four hundreds, his hunger for larger runs is not at all in question. Starting with a 92 against Gujarat and ending with a hundred when it mattered the most, he helped win the season by putting on 222 runs with his colleague Dubey. Although he couldn’t stay to make sure his team won, he had done his job well enough to ensure his team was miles ahead of the other side on the final day.