I will never forget my first Ranji Trophy final as Mumbai captain. Everything was challenging about it — the opponents as well as the fact that we were playing away from home.
We took on Tamil Nadu in the 2003-04 season at MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Tamil Nadu decided to bat first. Since the wicket was a very good one to bat on I thought our hosts would score around 450.
But left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni bowled well and claimed six wickets. I also contributed with three wickets and restricted them to just 294. While Tamil Nadu missed out on the opportunity to post a big total, we capitalised and scored a massive 613.
Amol Muzumdar (146), Vinayak Mane (106), Wasim Jaffer (133) scored centuries and I missed mine by eight runs, getting out caught and bowled by S Vidyut.
Sure, I would have liked a hundred in a Ranji final but I would take anything as long as we won. To lead Mumbai to a title triumph has to be special. Our coach Chandrakant Pandit was well prepared and ensured we had all aspects covered when we took the field.
We were nervous before the final, but that’s what you play for. On match eve, Chandu sir made sure all the boys were relaxed and in a good mind space to play without any pressure. I think that made a huge difference and we performed very well.
Mumbai’s very best cricketers will recall their memorable Ranji Trophy finals for mid-day readers right till the last day of the Mumbai vs Saurashtra Ranji Trophy final in Pune (Feb 24-28).
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