Rajneesh Gurbani, who scalped 12-wicket haul in Vidarbha’s nerve-wrecking 5-run victory over Karnataka in the second Ranji semi-final on Thursday (December 21), has said that it was the best match of my career thus far.
After claiming a 5-fer in the first innings to reduce Karnataka to 301 all-out, Gurbani pulled off an even better spell (7 for 68) in the second innings to finish the match with the astonishing figures of 12 for 162.
“This was the most satisfying spell because I never went on the back foot, I always kept attacking,” Rajneesh Gurbani was quoted by Wisden India as saying.
Chasing 198 in the fourth innings, Karnataka were 111 for 7 overnight. However, Vinay Kumar was in no mood to let it go as he took the score to 141 before being perished for 36. Shreyas Gopal (24) and Abhimanyu Mithun (33) then put on a crucial stand of 48 for the ninth wicket to take the side to the verge of victory.
Elaborating how things had panned out at that point in time, Gurbani said, “After Vinay Kumar’s wicket, the wickets still didn’t fall. So when they came very close, around 14 runs, I thought let’s leave it to the batsmen now. The longer we stretch the game, the more chances the batsmen will take. Because if we try something and a boundary comes, it put us under pressure.
“Then I tried to just bowl line and length. As expected, Mithun tried something, we got a wicket and came back into the game. Then we again we attacked when (S) Aravind came to bat. I think this was the best match of my career so far,” he explained.
Lauding the 24-year-old speedster’s effort, Vidarbha’s coach Chandrakant Pandit said: “Gurbani has been bowling well throughout the season. Whenever he got the opportunity, whenever he came to bowl, he bowls as per the demands of the team. So I give a lot of credit to his spell because today even 14 runs to go, 12 runs or six runs to go, he was still there. He backed his strength. So I give him credit for this spell even more.
“It was a 50-50 game according to us. We discussed this in the team meeting this morning. Whoever shows desperation is going to lose and whoever shows patience is going to win. That was our planning while entering the field. My captain had made it very clear to each individual bowler to go according to the plan and we always followed the plan,” Pandit added.
Vidarbha will lock horns against the seven times Ranji Champions, Delhi in the all-important final. The 84th edition of Ranji Trophy final will be played at Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore from December 29 to January 2.