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Ranji Trophy 2023-24, SF 1: Vidarbha beat MP by 62 runs; set up final clash against Mumbai

Ranji Trophy 2023-24, Semi-Final 1: Vidarbha beat Madhya Pradesh by 62 runs; set up final clash against Mumbai.


Ranji Trophy 2023-24, Semi-Final 1_ Vidarbha beat Madhya Pradesh by 62 runs; Yash Rathod scored 141 _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©X_Twitter)
Ranji Trophy 2023-24: Vidarbha beat Madhya Pradesh by 62 runs (Images: ©X/Twitter)

Vidarbha stormed to their third Ranji Trophy final as they beat Madhya Pradesh in a closely contested semi-final match against Madhya Pradesh at Nagpur. The 2-time champions defeated MP by 62 runs with just 11.2 overs into the fifth morning of the Ranji clash.


This victory came on the back of some splendid batting efforts by Yash Rathod who struck his maiden first-class century (141) in Vidarbha’s second innings and their bowlers overcame a spirited chase by Madhya Pradesh batters.


Vidarbha march onto the Ranji finals to set a clash with Mumbai after a tipsy-turvy Semifinal win over MP 

After winning the toss, Vidarbha skipper Akshay Wadkar followed the usual template in Indian conditions as he opted to bat first. But the decision at that point didn’t prove to be a wise one as Avesh Khan’s double strike left Vidarbha reeling at 83/3 at Lunch on Day 1.


All-rounder Venkatesh Iyer and pacer Kulwant Khejroliya further reduced the opposition to 106/5 and if not for a brisk 63 from veteran Karun Nair (170), Vidarbha would not have gotten past the 150-run mark. Avesh Khan was the pick of bowlers of MP as he came back to rattle the tail, ending with figures of 4/49.



A similar pattern followed in Madhya Pradesh’s response as they lost 4 wickets well before reaching 100, thanks to initial spells from Umesh Yadav and Yash Thakur. However, despite all the dismissals happening around him, opener Himanshu Mantri (126) played a typical patient red-ball knock, and he got good company in the form of Sagar Solanki (26) and Saransh Jain (30). The left-handed keeper-batter struck his sixth first-class ton to propel MP past Vidarbha and gain a handy 82-run first innings lead.


MP bowlers were again on the money as Avesh Khan sent back Atharva Taide in the third over before Akshay Warkhare was snapped by Anubhav Agarwal after a few overs. A booming 73-run stand between Dhruv Shorey (40) and Aman Mokhade (59) was broken by left-arm spinner Kumar Karthikeya as he removed the former just after Vidarbha got into a lead. As the wicket got easier to bat on, Vidarbha’s middle-order capitalized to full extent.

 

While experienced Karun Nair added 35 in the second essay, the 158-run stand for the sixth wicket between skipper Wadkar (77) and Yash Rathod changed the complexion of the game. The latter made a stroke-filled 141 in what could be considered a memorable occasion to bring one’s maiden first-class ton. In the end, it took Vidarbha’s lead to 320 in what proved to be a match-winning knock.

  

With the pitch still good to bat on in the fourth morning, MP made a solid and competitive start to their run-chase. Despite losing their first innings centurion Himanshu Mantri early in the piece, the pair of Yash Dubey and Harsh Gawli played with positive intent as they accumulated 106 runs in about 145 balls. Especially Gawli with an 80-ball 67 was proving to be a great threat but his dismissal slowed down MP’s proceedings. 



None of the batters could combine with Yash Dubey (94) and construct a partnership of any sort as Madhya Pradesh went to stumps on Day 4 at 228/6, needing a further 93 runs to win the game. A comeback was always looking difficult for MP on the final day after having lost Dubey the previous evening. Vidarbha bowlers Yash Thakur & Akshay Wakhare finished things off by claiming the remaining wickets in the 12th over.


Brief Scores: VID 170 (Nair 63, Taide 39, Avesh 4/49) & 402 (Rathod 141, Wadkar 77, Agarwal 5/92) beat MP 252 (Mantri 126, Saransh 30, Umesh 3/40) & 258 (Dubey 94, Gawli 67, Wakhare 3/42) by 62 runs.


Player of the Match: Yash Rathod (17 & 141) 


Madhya Pradesh made some great strides in the recent years in Ranji with coach Chandrakanth Pandit at the helm. Even in the semifinal clash against Vidarbha at Nagpur, they were well ahead after the first innings but unfortunately couldn’t capitalize on the same, thanks to Yash Rathod’s scintillating 141. MP will rue the fact that they should have had the game well within their grasp.


What’s to come?

The Ranji Trophy 2023-24 final will be contested between Mumbai and Vidarbha from March 10 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. 



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