Vidarbha beat Saurashtra by 78 runs to successfully defend its Ranji Trophy title at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur. Vidarbha’s successful title defence was once again led by Faiz Fazal and his side who reminded everyone that the domestic championship can be won without the star power. As the 2018/19 Ranji season draws to a close, we look back at the stand out performers who shone with the bat and ball for the triumphant team from the west.
Left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate's form in the match was instrumental in Vidarbha success. Sarwate was the chief architect in the final where he bagged 11 wickets to set up the win. A five-for in the first innings, a 6-fer in the second and a valiant match-turning 49 with the bat allowed Vidarbha to take the upper hand. Sarwate's influence with the ball was telling as he got rid of Cheteshwar Pujara in both the innings.
Another aspect of his game is the consistency level. Sarwate has picked 30 or more wickets in three out of his four seasons. His key to taking wickets is his height- as he uses his shoulder to good effect, which allows him to generate good bounce. Sarwate ended the season with 55 wickets in 11 matches (including two 4-fers and 6 fifers).
Wasim Jaffer is aging like fine wine. In the 2018-19 season, the 41-year-old scored 1037 runs at an average of 69.13 (including 120 fours and eight sixes). Jaffer became the first player in the history of the tournament to aggregate 1000-plus runs in two seasons. Earlier, in the 2008/09 season, Jaffer had accumulated 1260 runs for Mumbai. In this season, he became the first player to go past 1000 runs in a season for Vidarbha.
With 149 appearances- the most for a player in the tournament- Jaffer also went past the previous record of 145 matches by Madhya Pradesh’s Devendra Bundela.
Akshay Wakhare –
Akshay Wakhare is another spinner who played a key role in Vidarbha’s success. Right-arm off-spinner Akshay Wakhare took 34 wickets in 10 matches. He took these wickets at an average of 29.17 and a miserly economy rate of 2.73. He also picked up two five-wicket hauls and four four-wicket hauls throughout the season. In the finals, Wakhare returned with figures of 7/117 to help his side win the match.
Skipper Faiz Fazal played a crucial role with the bat and scored 752 runs in 11 matches at an average of 50.13. Fazal. who was instrumental in Vidarbha's first Ranji title win last season, opened the batting once again and played quite a few important knocks. In the semi-finals against Kerala, Fazal top-scored for Vidarbha with 75. In the 2018-19 season, he recorded three centuries and two half-centuries which included the highest score of 151.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Akshay Wadkar scored 725 runs in 11 matches and was the third highest run scorer with the bat for Vidarbha this season. Most importantly his runs came at an average of 60.41. Wadkar also notched three centuries and two half-centuries in the season with the highest score of 144. Behind the wickets, Wadkar was equally handy as he was involved in 27 dismissals (including 21 catches and 6 stumpings).