Madhya Pradesh’s Road to the Ranji Trophy Final | Cricket – SportsMediaz

Madhya Pradesh (MP) are all set to play their first Ranji Trophy final since the 1998-99 season on Wednesday, where they will lock horns with 41-time champions Mumbai at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. Chandrakit Pandit, who was their captain in that run, is now their coach, who has returned after successful stints with Mumbai and Vidarbha, and was also rendering his services at the National Cricket Academy. 

Pandit considers the current MP unit to be well-drilled and comprehensive. Their preparation and hard work, which has helped them reach the finals is worth a reward, irrespective of the outcome in the finale.

Ahead of Ranji Trophy finals beginning on Wednesday, let’s take a look back at their path to the summit clash, and also the star performers from the unit.

MP vs Gujarat: MP won by 106 runs

Their season opener for Elite Group A was held in Rajkot in February, where they locked horns with Gujarat. MP put up 278 runs on the board while batting first, with Shubham Sharma’s 92 being the biggest contribution. However, the team had then relinquished a first-innings lead as Gujarat stacked 331, despite a fifer by Ishwar Pandey. Shubham Sharma then went to slam a ton in the second innings, helping MP set a target of 195. 

An inspired bowling performance by left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya, then derailed the Gujarat chase as his fifer helped MP pack the opponent for 88. 

Kartikeya finished the innings with figures reading 5-34 off 19 overs. 

MP vs Meghalaya: MP won by an innings and 301 runs

Madhya Pradesh routed Meghalaya at the Saurashtra Cricket Stadium, and were only required to bat once as they bowled out Meghalaya for 61 in the first innings. Medium pacer Gaurav Yadav was the star of the show, taking 5 wickets and conceding just 11 runs. To make matters worse, MP would then go on to score 499/6 declared. A second consecutive Ranji century from Shubham Sharma, and one from Akshat Raghuwanshi, left them in a very comfortable position to wrap the match early. It is exactly what they did, dismissing Meghalaya for 137, with Anubhav Agarwal this time completing a 5-fer.

MP vs Kerala: Match drawn

With their position in the quarterfinals all but secure, MP were happy to bat out a draw with Kerala, who also were hoping to avoid defeat. MP then batted first, and a gargantuan 277-run partnership between Yash Dubey and Rajat Patidar removed the prospect of a loss from the equation. MP batted for over 200 overs, with Dubey facing 591 balls and scored 289. Kerala responded in similar fashion as Ponnan Rahul and Sachin Baby slammed their respective tons. 

Quarterfinal, MP vs Punjab: MP won by 10 wickets

Up against a strong Punjab team boasting of Abhishek Sharma, Shubman Gill, Anmolpreet Singh, and Mandeep Singh as its top 4, MP required the bowling performance of a lifetime to keep themselves in the hunt in Alur. They got off to a good start in this regard, bowling Punjab out for 219, with all 5 bowlers notching up a number in the wickets column. MP in response scored an impressive 397, charged by Himanshu Mantri’s 89, Rajat Patidar’s (by this time having returned from his RCB heroics) 85, and yet another Shubham Sharma century. They secured a 178-run lead, by no means enough to dream about an innings victory — but MP brought it very close to one.

Kumar Kartikeya once again opened the bowling, and again ran riot, picking 6 wickets only for 50 runs. Saransh Jain provided able support from the other end, picking up 4 scalps. At 166-8, Punjab ran the very real risk of losing a Ranji Trophy quarter-final by an innings deficit — but a gutsy 33 from Mayank Markande prevented that. MP were put in to chase 26. Dubey and Mantri caused no fuss, as the duo chased down the target and secured the semifinals berth with a 10-wicket victory.

Semifinal, MP vs Bengal: MP won by 174 runs

Going up against last season’s finalists Bengal, MP needed both their batting and bowling to click in order to remain ahead of their opponent. Putting themselves in to bat, wicket-keeper batter Himanshu Mantri provided the big score, as he accumulated 165 and helped MP pile 341 on the board. The track assisted the spinners and exploiting the advantage 341 proved to be a very strong first innings score. 8 of Bengal’s 11 batters were dismissed for nought or single digit score. However, centuries by Shahbaz Ahmed and veteran Manoj Tiwary ensured Bengal kept themselves within touching distance. MP managed a 68-run first innings lead, allowing them something to build on.

In their second innings, MP piled another 281 runs, imposing a 350-run target for the opposition. Kumar Kartikeya once again emerged as the star of the show, as he dismissed 3 of the top 5 Bengal batters. His efforts helped his side bowl Bengal out for 175.

Top Scorers:

Rajat Patidar 506 runs, average 72.28

Yash Dubey 480 runs, average 80.00

Shubham Sharma 462 runs, average 77.00

Top Wicket-takers:

Kumar Kartikeya 27 wickets, average 16.33

Gaurav Yadav 17 wickets, average 16.23

Anubhav Agarwal 12 wickets, average 15.91

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