Ranji Trophy glory goes to cautious but deserving Karnataka

Favourites Karnataka clinched their seventh Ranji trophy success and first since 1999, in what some might deem as a slightly disappointing final against Maharashtra in Hyderabad.This was an example of the dangers of knock out first-class cricket, with Karnataka’s first innings lead of 210 meaning there was little reason for them to ram home a push victory. They knew that Maharashtra had no choice but to take gambles and force the pace, given that a draw would hand Karnataka the title on 1st innings scores.

Maharashtra who had reached the final against the odds, didn’t exactly help themselves after a below-par performance on the second day.

The underdogs quickly collapsed from 275 for five to 305 all out, before dropping a host of catches to allow Karnataka to reach 230-0 at stumps. Ganesh Satish and Lokesh Rahul helped themselves to centuries – the latters, his third of the campaign.

Maharashtra did show real character to bounce back to remove Karnataka for 505, however the bulk of the damage had already been done and further to that in eating up 171 overs to make that total, Karnataka had all but ensured the trophy.

Defensive fields, which saw a large proportion of Vinay Kumar’s fielders placed on the boundary, allowed Maharashtra to roll along at four an over and Kedar Jadhav secured a sixth ton in eleven Ranji games at a strike rate of nearly 83.

It appeared there was a half a chance of Karnataka’s negative methods backfiring dramatically, yet two soft dismissals including that of Jadhav saw Maharashtra slip from 262 for four to 268 for six and with it removing any possibility of a seriously challenging last day’s run chase.

Maharashtra were still able to squeeze out enough to give themselves something to bowl with.

Shreyas Gopal took 4 for 47 to help wrap things up for Karnataka, taking the 20-year-old’s leg spinner record to 22 wickets at just 18 in his opening five first-class matches.

testerThe 157 Maharashtra were able to set was always going to be extremely difficult to defend and so it proved.

The Champions in waiting cruised home with seven wickets to spare and prove they did get their tactics right, even though a showpiece final deserved more. Their approach didn’t make for exuberant cricket but it’s hard to argue against it, given the match situation and what was at stake.

How Karnataka went about things on day three and four are insignificant minor details in a campaign where they have been by some distance the tournaments best side.

They have remained unbeaten throughout and won more games than anyone in the group stage, with this final success being a remarkable seventh win in eight Ranji games. Karnataka have been simply an unstoppable ruthless unit.

Rahul and Manish Pandey have provided consistent runs throughout, whilst Karun Nair has come into the side during the business of the campaign and hit three hundreds in six games.

Where they have truly been streets ahead of the rest is in terms of their bowling with a plethora of players chipping in with wickets, most notably experienced seam duo Kumar and Abimhanyu Mithun.

In reality, Karnataka dominated this final just as they have done in the majority of games throughout the season. A first trophy win for Maharashtra since 1941 would have been a wonderful story, but Karnataka’s name on the 2014 Ranji Trophy was the right result.

Karnataka 515 (Rahul 131, Satish 117, Fallah 3-93) and 157 for 3 beat Maharashtra 305 (Bawne 89) and 366 (Jadhav 112, Vinay 4-116, Gopal 4-47) by seven wickets

by Matt Carter

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