Vidarbha has now become the 3rd team after Mumbai and Karnataka to clinch two Irani Cup titles in a row.
Atharva Taide, a rookie left-hander playing only his fifth First Class match, and the seasoned Ganesh Satish, combined forces to enable Vidarbha retain the Irani Cup at the VCA stadium on Saturday. Vidarbha chasing 280, was 11 runs away from victory, when both the captains agreed to a draw.
Replacing veteran Wasim Jaffer in the side for a crucial match can be a tough for any youngster, but the 19-year-old showed maturity to carve out a half-century (72) that set the foundation for the chase.
Satish scored a fluent 87 but missed out on a deserving hundred when he pulled a long hop from Vihari to substitute fielder Sandeep Warrier at midwicket.
Taide showed class and skill to play a crucial innings under pressure. He added 116 with opener R. Sanjay(42) for the second wicket.
Vidarbha had to negate the threat from leg-spinner Rahul Chahar, who with his variety, was Rest’s trump card. Taide took over the responsibility of negating Chahar’s effectiveness with his footwork.
He put away the rare loose deliveries from the leg-spinner and hit him over extra-cover for a six as he grew in confidence.
Taide’s partner Sanjay held fort and scored freely against the other bowlers; his straight six off Dharmendrasinh Jadeja stood out for its sheer timing. However, Chahar struck soon after to remove Sanjay with a straighter delivery.
Satish was aggressive from the start but was lucky to get a reprieve on seven when he played an inside out shot against Chahar. Both Ankit Rajpoot and Tanveer Ul-Haq converged on the dipping ball at midwicket and it eluded a diving Tanveer.
Satish made RoI pay for the lapse as he played his shots on both sides of the wicket and never allowed the bowlers to settle down. Satish was severe on Chahar, driving and lofting him to pick up boundaries.
Chahar struck again in the third over after lunch when he had Taide playing back to a grubber. Satish then found an ideal partner in Mohit Kale and the two attacked the spinners to pile up the runs quickly.
As the day wore on Chahar became erratic, forcing Ajinkya Rahane to turn to his other bowlers. But they hardly made an impact.
Chahar returned with the new ball but Satish struck him for three boundaries as he reached his fifty.
Jadeja had Kale (37) top-edging a sweep to Tanveer at square-leg. The fourth wicket stand of 83 brought Vidarbha close to victory before the captains agreed to a draw with Vidarbha at 269 for five.
In a noble gesture Vidarbha’s captain Faiz Fazal dedicated his team’s victory in the Irani Cup to the martyrs of the Pulwama terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Our heart goes to victims of the terrorist attack. As a small gesture from our side we dedicate this victory to the martyrs of Pulwama attack.
“The Vidarbha cricket team will donate the entire prize-money to the families of the victims in the attack,” said Fazal after receiving the trophy.
Rest of India — 1st innings: 330
Vidarbha — 1st innings: 425
Rest of India — 2nd innings: 374 for three decl.
Vidarbha — 2nd innings: F. Fazal b Rajpoot 0, R. Sanjay lbw b Chahar 42, A. Taide lbw b Chahar 72, Ganesh Satish c sub b Vihari 87, M.R. Kale c Tanveer b Jadeja 37, A.V. Wadkar (not out) 10; Extras (b-14, 1b-6, nb-1) 21; Total (for five wkts. in 103.1 overs): 269.
Match drawn, Vidarbha wins on first innings lead