Mumbai are set to face off against Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy final at Indore on Tuesday. Mumbai has already pocketed the title a record 41 times, while this is Gujarat’s first final since 1950-51.
No wonder then that Mumbai’s rich cricketing history comes through as we put together this list of the five best Ranji Trophy finals, with the team featuring in as many as three of the five matches in the list.
1. Bombay vs Haryana, Bombay, 1990-91
The image of a sobbing Indian legend Dilip Vengsarkar being consoled by teammates after the final between Bombay and Haryana in 1990-91 is forever etched in many minds. Vengsarkar single-handedly launched a breathtaking assault on a stiff Haryana target of 355 on the final day of the match.
His unbeaten 139 in the second innings is considered among the finest-ever in Ranji Trophy history. He was helped along the way by a youngster named Sachin Tendulkar (96), with whom he added 134 runs for the fourth wicket.
Then, Vengsarkar added 81 with another youngster named Vinod Kambli (45).
Towards the end of the day, Vengsarkar was tragically left stranded as last man Abey Kuruvilla ran himself out with Bombay falling short of the target by three runs. After having trailed the Kapil Dev-led Haryana all through the match, Bombay's turnaround had a tragic end.
Brief scores: Haryana 522 (Deepak Sharma 199, Chetan Sharma 98; Abey Kuruvilla 4-128) & 242 (Ajay Banerjee 60; Salil Ankola 3-39) beat Bombay 410 (Sanjay Patil 85, Lalchand Rajput 74, Sachin Tendulkar 47; Yogendra Bhandari 5-118, Kapil Dev 3-54) & 352 (Dilip Vengsarkar 139*, Sachin Tendulkar 96; Chetan Sharma 2-59).
2. Hyderabad vs Nawanagar, Bombay, 1937-38
One of the closest finishes in Ranji history took place before India's independence. In what was a classic finale, Hyderabad won the three-day title contest by just one wicket.
Nawanagar, led by English cricketer Bert Wensley, featured iconic all-rounder Vinoo Mankad, apart from two of India’s first fast bowlers, Amar Singh and Shute Banerjee.
While the first innings of both sides were low-scoring, it was in the second innings that the game witnessed a twist. Captain Wensley, Amar Singh and Mubarak Ali notched fifties and helped Nawanagar set a target of 310 runs.
However, a fine effort by Edulji Aibara, who remained unbeaten on 137, sealed the deal for Hyderabad in a tense finish. They won by one wicket.
Brief scores: Nawanagar 152 (ND Marshall 36; Hyder Ali 4-55, Ibrahim Khan 3-44) & 270 (Bert Wensley 67, S Mubarak Ali 61, Amar Singh 57; Hyder Ali 5-92) lost to Hyderabad 113 (SM Hussain 36; Shute Banerjee 4-34) & 310-9 (Edulji Aibara 137*, Mubarak Ali 3-48).
3. Karnataka vs Mumbai, Mysore, 2009-10
Barely a year after he impressed India with a hundred in the IPL, Manish Pandey repeated his exploits in whites. Pandey's 144 seemed to be leading Karnataka to a famous win, but Mumbai’s bowlers had other plans.
Chasing 338 for the title, Karnataka had comfortably reached 255-3. But after Iqbal Abdulla dismissed Pandey, Karnataka lost the next six wickets for just 76 runs.
Mumbai fast bowlers Ajit Agarkar (5-81) and Dhawal Kulkarni (3-80) ran through the middle and lower order and handed a six-run victory to their team.
Brief scores: Mumbai 233 (Vinayak Samant 67; Vinay Kumar 4-61, Abhimanyu Mithun 3-56) & 234 (Dhawal Kulkarni 87, Abhishek Nayar 50; Abhimanyu Mithun 6-71) beat Karnataka 130 (KB Pawan 33; Aavishkar Salvi 5-31) & 331 (Manish Pandey 144, Ganesh Satish 75; Ajit Agarkar 5-81, Dhawal Kulkarni 3-80).
4. Bombay v Delhi, Bombay, 1984-85
Ravi Shastri was riding high on his famous exploits in Australia that season, where he had won a luxury car after scripting a famous win with the ball in the World Championship of Cricket final against Pakistan.
The Ranji Trophy final between Bombay and Delhi started just a day after Shastri, as well as rival captains Sunil Gavaskar and Madan Lal, returned to India.
Gavaskar's 106 in the first innings was not enough as Delhi managed a 65-run lead. Delhi then needed 300 to win the title in what was veteran opener Chetan Chauhan's final hurrah. With Gavaskar unwell, Shastri stepped in as stand-in captain to trigger a famous Delhi collapse. On the final day, Shastri scalped 8-91 to end the 1984-85 season on an all-time high.
Brief scores: Bombay 333 (Sunil Gavaskar 106, Sandeep Patil 54; Madan Lal 4-42, Maninder Singh 3-75) & 364-7 decl (Ravi Shastri 76, Sunil Gavaskar 64, Lalchand Rajput 63, Sandeep Patil 57; Maninder Singh 4-132) beat Delhi 398 (Ajay Sharma 131, Chetan Chauhan 98, Madan Lal 78; Raju Kulkarni 5-106, Ravi Shastri 4-91) & 209 (KP Bhaskar 60, Chetan Chauhan 54; Ravi Shastri 8-91).
5. Baroda vs Railways, Baroda, 2000-01
This was the first of two consecutive finals between these two sides – Baroda and Railways. While Baroda came from behind in this match to win the title, the following year Railways notched up a massive triumph.
The 2000-01 final though was all about Zaheer Khan as he gave an indication of his abilities after he picked up eight wickets in the match. Right through the game Baroda trailed Railways.
In fact, Railways had a 151-run lead in the first innings thanks to an array of half-centuries, including by India internationals Murali Kartik and Sanjay Bangar.
Baroda fought back through their captain Jacob Martin and Satyajit Parab in the second innings, who helped their team set a decent target of 223 runs.
Thereafter, Zaheer took over and scalped a famous five-wicket haul to help Baroda win the Ranji Trophy.
Brief scores: Baroda 243 (Connor Williams 65, Ajit Bhoite 57, Tushar Arothe 52; Harvinder Singh 4-59, Sanjay Bangar 3-55) & 373 (Satyajit Parav 141, Jacob Martin 87+; TP Singh 4-82, Sanjay Bangar 3-94) beat Railways 394 (Murali Kartik 79, TP Singh 67, Yere Goud 65, Sanjay Bangar 62; Zaheer Khan 3-92, Valmik Buch 3-86) & 201 (Sudhir Wankhede 58, SK Sahu 42; Zaheer Khan 5-43).