NEW DELHI: Rajneesh Gurbani. If the name did not automatically ring a bell a few weeks ago, chances are it will for some time to come. The 24-year-old, in just his second season of first-class cricket, has been a leading factor in Vidarbha‘s run to the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy title.
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Faiz Fazal‘s team entered the season as they had the past few: as a team bristling with promise, but needing something extra to drive them through the crucial knockout stage. That came in the form of the young pace bowler, who starred in the quarter-finals, semi-finals and most critically the final against Delhi in Indore, where he was Man of the Match in Vidarbha’s nine-wicket win over the much fancied opposition.
Here, following Vidarbha’s run to their first Ranji title in their maiden appearance in the final, are the highlights of young Gurbani‘s top three bowling performances.
QF v Kerala in Surat – Won by 142 runs
Vidarbha struggled in their first innings, making 246, but 5/38 from Gurbani swung the match with Kerala all out for 176. Another Faiz century, coupled with a few fifties and Apoorv Wankhade’s 107, took Vidarbha to 507/9. Set a mammoth 578, Kerala were bowled out for 165 with Aditya Sarwate the star with 6/41.
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SF v Karnataka in Kolkata – Won by five runs
A ripper of a game. Abhimanyu Mithun dominated with 5/45 to help bowl out Vidarbha for 185 on day one, after which Karnataka slipped quickly to 21/3. However, they were revived by Karun Nair‘s 153 and a vital 73 from CM Gautam and helped to 301. Vidarbha found their batting heroes in Gamesh Sathish (81) and Sarwate (55) to make it to 313, which left Karnataka a target of 198. Then it was over to Gurbani, who with four wickets in one spell on day four and three on the final morning sealed a narrow win to put Vidarbha in their maiden Ranji Trophy final.
Final v Delhi in Indore – Won by nine wickets
In the biggest match of his promising career, Gurbani set Delhi back with a hat-trick out of superb figures of 6/59. His hat-trick saw Delhi slip from 290/7 to 295 all out, and made him just the second bowler ever to claim a hat-trick in a Ranji final.
“It is a fast bowler’s dream to take a hat-trick and a five-wicket haul in the finals, so obviously it is a special feeling. To be frank, I was not aware I was on a hat-trick. I was not thinking about taking it, but I was bowling every delivery with the intent of taking a wicket,” he said after the second day’s play in Indore, which ended with Vidarbha in charge of proceedings.
In Delhi’s second innings, Gurbani was lucky to get the huge wicket of Gautam Gambhir when replays showed the ball missing leg stump. But his second dismissal had nothing dubious about it, with the well-set Nitish Rana caught behind for 62. Figures of 2/92 gave Gurbani eight wickets for the match, and a much-deserved Man of the Match.
Next up for Vidarbha are the Twenty20 and List A competitions, and there is bound to be plenty of attention paid to Gurbani. There is also an IPL auction later this month. What lies in store for this promising young pace bowler?
Source : timesofindia