Pune: The scenes at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Gahunje here yesterday, when Mumbai lifted the Ranji Trophy for the 41st time, were similar to those at the Wankhede Stadium moments after the 2012-13 Ranji final.
Shardul Thakur celebrates Mumbai's win as Saurashtra’s Hardik Rathod is clean bowled. Pic/Mandar Tannu
Just like then, this time too Mumbai finished the proceedings against Saurashtra within three days as Aditya Tare & Co won by an innings and 21 runs to lift the coveted silverware.
In reply to Saurashtra's first innings score of 235, Mumbai posted 371 thanks to a 103-run last-wicket partnership between Siddhesh Lad (88) and Balwinder Singh Sandhu Jr (34 not out). The 136-run lead was more than enough as Thakur's pace then proved too hot to handle for Saurashtra, who folded up for just 115 runs in the second innings.
Thakur, who was also a part of the 2012-13 final, was particularly ecstatic after claiming five wickets for 26 runs in the second innings this time. This, after an impressive three for 89 in the first innings.
The feat was special considering he had gone wicketless in the last final.
"I was finally able to do what I couldn't in that final. These wickets were very crucial as we wanted to win the Ranji Trophy at any cost. It was a dream we had all seen together as a team. And I am happy, I played an important role in achieving it," an enthusiastic Thakur told mid-day yesterday.
Thakur recalled how going wicketless in the 2012-13 Ranji final haunted him. "I was hurt when I didn't get any wickets. I was quite raw at that time. I was learning the tricks of the trade. I bowled a bit better in the second innings (0-29), but was disappointed with my overall performance in that final," said Thakur, who was on a rampage yesterday after dismissing Test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, edging one at gully for 27.
"I was fired up. This was my best spell of the season. Pujara's wicket opened up the opportunities as he was looking to bat for long. I think, I saved my best for last," said the 24-year-old.
Thakur, who has been on the national selectors' radar for some time now, hoped his performance in this final will boost his career. "Performing in a Ranji final is very important. It will be important for my career. Let's see how it goes from here. I have high hopes," Thakur signed off.
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