Having qualified for the final of Ranji Trophy 2018-19 season, Vidarbha has proved that their last year’s triumph wasn’t a fluke by any means.
Vidarbha topped the combined points table (Elite Groups ‘A’ and ‘B’) and hasn’t been defeated in a single contest thus far. While the defending champions demolished Uttarakhand by an innings and 115 runs in the quarterfinal, they thrashed Kerala by an innings and 11 runs in the all-important semi-final.
Vidarbha has also been exceptionally led by Faiz Fazal, who has three centuries in the tournament. Fazal was the only batsman in the semi-final from either side to notch up a half-century on a seamer-friendly track in Wayanad.
Speaking to CricketNext after the match, Fazal termed his 142-ball 75 in the semis as one of the most satisfying knocks of his domestic career.
“There is always room for improvement, hunger to score more runs is always there inside me. This knock was really special to me and will be really close to my heart, more so because we managed to progress to the final. The track was tough to bat, unfortunately missed by 100 but getting 75 in the semis is great as well,” Fazal quoted.
“After being 170/2, we were expecting a total in the range of 300 but it was kind of pitch where you could lose wickets in a bunch. We can improve in that area, throughout the season we have been batting really well, each and every player has chipped in,” he added.
Umesh, who recorded the match-figures of 9/113 in the quarterfinal against Uttarakhand, returned with 12/79 in the semi-final to push Vidarbha into the summit stage of the tournament.
“It was a very clinical performance by the team. We had bowler-friendly conditions but we utilized them well. All our seamers bowled well. No doubt Umesh was outstanding but (Rajneesh) Gurbani and Yash Thakur also supported him well. Umesh was exceptional, our catching was tremendous,” the Vidarbha skipper said.
“He [Umesh] has been among the wickets for a few seasons now. His skills are exceptional. Bowling at 140-145kmph, when he is bowling really well, he makes life miserable for any opposition batsman,” he further asserted.
Vidarbha will now face the winner of Saurashtra vs Karnataka contest in the final from February 3.
“We defeated Karnataka in the semis last year, so no final is going to be easy. If you want to win Ranji, it will be not be a piece of cake. You have to beat the best to be the best. We are prepared for that and waiting for the final. We’ll just take a couple of days rest and then be pumped up for the final,” Fazal concluded.