Mumbai’s road to their 47th Ranji Trophy Final: Young guns wake up the giants | Cricket – SportsMediaz

Mumbai have a chance at extending their historic dominance in the Ranji Trophy when they take on Madhya Pradesh in the final at Bengaluru’s Chinnaswamy Stadium starting on Wednesday. They have won the title a mammoth 41 times, making them the most successful team in India’s premier first class competition by some distance. This would also be Mumbai’s 47th appearance in the Ranji Trophy final, which has been held 87 times. Madhya Pradesh, on the other hand, have never won the title. 

It is tempting to create an underdog narrative for MP but Mumbai will want to ensure that any such hopes are quashed. For all the success they have historically enjoyed in the Ranji Trophy, this is the first time Mumbai are reaching the final since the 2016/17 season and they are gunning for their first title since the 2015/16 season. 

Mumbai’s run to the final this season has been anything but seamless. Here is a run-down of all their matches and some of their star performers en route to the final.

Mumbai vs Saurashtra: Match drawn

Playing in Ahmedabad, Mumbai seemingly got off to a typical start in their first two innings of play: they scored a mammoth 544 runs thanks to a belligerent 275 from Sarfaraz Khan and an accompanying century from Ajinkya Rahane. Mohit Avasthi and Shams Mulani then took four wickets each to get Saurashtra all-out for 220 and enforce a follow-on. What was to follow was a recovery job from Saurashtra, hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Cheteshwar Pujara rather uncharacteristically smashed 91 off 83 balls, supplemented by 98 from Snell Patel. Lower down the order, Prerak Mankad and Jaydev Unadkat scored important cameos, erasing the run deficit, and batting out the rest of the match to earn a draw. Mumbai did get awarded 3 points, which would prove significant at the end of the group stage, but would have wanted all 6.

Mumbai vs Goa: Mumbai win by 119 runs

Mumbai’s batting succumbed to a rare failure in the first innings against Goa, bowled out for 163. Goa would build on that advantage, scoring 327 and taking a 164-run lead. Mumbai looked to be on the ropes, and needed a big performance in the second half of the match to ensure they could prevent a loss, let alone dream about a win. But things didn’t go to plan: Rahane was dismissed to make it 208-7, and tail-enders Shams Mulani and Tanush Kotian remained at the crease. What followed is scarcely believable: the pair stitched together a 116-run partnership to extend the lead against all odds, with Mulani scoring 50 and Kotian ending on 98. It was an extraordinary escape, and the pair later combined to take 8 wickets, including a five-wicket haul for Mulani, to bowl Goa out meekly for 112. Despite Goa being in control for nearly three-quarters of the match, Mumbai stood up when it mattered, ultimately winning comfortably by 119 runs.

Mumbai vs Odisha: Mumbai win by an innings and 108 runs

Mumbai needed to win to ensure they could keep their noses ahead of Saurashtra, and did so with some pomp and style against Odisha. Odisha’s first innings total of 284 was never going to be enough, and half-centuries from captain Prithvi Shaw, Aditya Tare, and Shams Mulani supported big centuries from Armaan Jaffer and Sarfaraz Khan as Mumbai declared for 532. Mulani continued his good form, picking up another fourth innings 5-fer, as Odisha never recovered: they were bowled out for 140, an important routine win for Mumbai after the close-call against Goa.

Quarter-final, Mumbai vs Uttarakhand: Mumbai won by 725 runs

The quarter-final turned out to be, simply put, a rout. It became the biggest ever margin of victory by runs in a first class contest, with Uttarakhand bowled out in under 28 overs in the fourth innings. There were still some memorable moments: replacing the injured Rahane on debut, Suved Parkar would score a massive 252 in the first innings, making Sarfaraz’s 153 a second-fiddle act. Mulani would pick up yet another five-wicket haul as Uttarakhand were blown away for 114, but rather than enforcing a follow-on, Mumbai chose to give their bowlers some additional rest and build on their 533-run lead. Shaw and centurion Yashasvi Jaiswal put on a 115-run opening partnership, setting up an extraordinary target of 795 for the flattened Uttarakhand to chase. It became a question of how quickly Mumbai could run through the Uttarakhand lineup again. The answer was 27.5 overs, Uttarakhand dismissed were for 69, their two innings combining to not even scratch 200. Debutant Parkar outscored his opponents all by himself. 

Semi-final, Mumbai vs Uttar Pradesh: Match drawn, Mumbai through on first innings lead

A third consecutive comfortable result for Mumbai, in a match where the most surprising thing was perhaps Mulani going wicketless. Batting first, Yashasvi Jaiswal scored his second consecutive century, and a ton from Hardik Tamore meant Mumbai stocked up 393 runs in the first innings. In response, UP were blown away for 180, handing Mumbai a 213-run lead. With qualification secure even in the case of a draw, Mumbai saw no need for their bowlers to come out again and try to force a result unless absolutely necessary, with the turnaround time to the final only 4 days. They batted the rest of the match out, Jaiswal scoring yet another century along with Armaan Jaffer. Shaw, Sarfaraz, and Mulani also contributed with half-centuries. Mumbai ended with 533/4, their current form and the ease with which they’re producing runs an ominous sign to Madhya Pradesh.

Top scorers

Sarfaraz Khan 803 runs, average 133.33

Yashasvi Jaiswal 419 runs, average 104.75

Armaan Jaffer 339 runs, average 84.75

Top wicket-takers

Shams Mulani 37 wickets, average 14.59

Tanush Kotian 18 wickets, average 21.00

Mohit Avasthi 14 wickets, average 21.21

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