There are two finals that I distinctly remember. The first one has to be the 1993-94 one against Bengal. Mumbai had a lot of young guns whereas Bengal had very experienced cricketers... all dadas! And we were just one or two years into first-class cricket.
More than the game, I remember the team meeting which we had in our captain Ravi Shastri’s room in Garware Club House (in the Wankhede Stadium premises). I don’t remember what he said, but we were all pumped up when we left his room. I was ready to play the final that same evening. We ended up winning the Ranji Trophy after eight years.
The other final is the 2006-07 one — again against Bengal at Wankhede Stadium — where I led the team. That season was emotionally draining for me with so many ups and downs. We had no points on the table in our first few games and we were 0 for 5 in the second innings against Baroda in the semis. It was a roller-coaster ride. The final was nothing short of dramatic. The whole season was like a theatre. The season was as good as two seasons for me. Zaheer Khan cleaning up Sourav Ganguly for a duck sticks in my mind.
Once Rohan Gavaskar was out (caught by Sahil Kukreja off Ajit Agarkar in the second innings), I knew more than half of the job was done. I wasn’t sure of our triumph till I lifted the trophy. Again, like in 1993-94, there was a generation shift for us with a lot of young players coming up the ranks. Sachin Tendulkar’s inputs were invaluable. He remained quite cool even under pressure situations which helped the team and me.
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