Ranji Trophy: Mumbai’s 39 title triumphs — Part 2 of 4

DIlip Sardesai (right), pictured here playing against Essex for India, was the scripter of many a Mumbai win © Getty Images

The ongoing Ranji Trophy final marks Mumbai’s 44th appearance in the title round. The team has triumphed a whopping 39 times. This is the second of the four part series in which Arunabha Sengupta briefly sketches the previous Mumbai wins in the history of the tournament.

10. 1958-59: Bombay versus Bengal

The start of the famed fifteen years of consecutive championships.

Madhav Apte led the Bombay team against Pankaj Roy’s spirited Bengalis, who started strong but did not manage to keep the contest going in the second innings.

By lunch on the first day, Premangshu Chatterjee had wreaked havoc with his left-arm seam at the Brabourne Stadium. The captain was out without a run on the board, while brother Arvind Apte followed shortly. Ramnath Kenny was another big name to fall without scoring. Half the side was back in the hutch for 80.

As was to happen several times down the years, when the stars of Bombay did not shine, the lesser lights sparkled. Hoshang Amroliwala played the best innings of his career and added 160 for the sixth wicket with Madhav Dalvi. Yet, when the home team was dismissed for 294 on the second morning, Bengal fancied their chances. The hopes soared as Roy added 66 for the first wicket with Durham born John Gilchrist. However, Ramakant Desai and Manohar Hardikar got into the act, and none of the other batsmen made an impression. Bombay led by 118.

It was enough for the seasoned Apte and Kenny to hammer home the advantage. They posted solid hundreds as a young Ajit Wadekar hit 85. The 536 runs compiled in the second innings put it way beyond Bengal. Although Roy played another good hand for 95, Bombay won by a huge margin of 420 runs.

Brief Scores: Bombay 294 (HD Amroliwala 139, MM Dalvi 58, PM Chatterjee 6 for 76) and 536-9 dec. (ML Apte 157, RB Kenny 111, AL Wadekar 85, Amroliwala 44) beat Bengal 176 (P Roy 53, MS Hardikar4 for 24) and 234 (Roy 95, K Sillett 58, KN Pai 4 for 46, RB Desai 4 for 37) by 420 runs.

11. 1959-60: Bombay versus Mysore

A no contest – as was to be the story in many episodes of the Bombay dominance.

Hundreds by Hardikar and Gulabrai Ramchand, aided by 68 from Polly Umrigar took Bombay past 500. After the batsmen had done their jobs, Ghulam Mustafa Guard, the left-arm medium pacer who played a couple of Tests for India in the late fifties, ran through the limited Mysore batting.

Following on, Mysore did somewhat better with V Subramanya, the only player of real class in the line-up, registering a fighting 100. Guard was among the wickets once again and Bombay triumphed by an innings.

Brief Scores: Bombay 504 (MS Hardikar 145, GS Ramchand 106, PR Umrigar 68, SJ Diwadkar 54, D Das Gupta 4 for 77) beat Mysore 221 (S Krishnamurthy 48, S Nazareth 41, KS Viswanath 51, GM Guard 5 for 66) and 261 (V Subramanya 103, RK Gaurav 49, Guard 4 for 69) by an innings and 22 runs.

12. 1960-61: Bombay versus Rajasthan

With Vinoo Mankad, Salim Durani, Russi Surti, Vijay Manjrekar, Hanumant Singh and Subhash Gupte Rajasthan was a strong outfit – and the most likely to challenge the might of Bombay. Indeed, they met in four successive finals.

Interestingly, the leg-spinning Gupte brothers played on two opposing sides, with Baloo turning out for Bombay.

On the helpful Udaipur wicket, Ramakant Desai was in his element, skittling out seven Rajasthan batsmen to restrict them to a measly 140. Ramchand scored yet another hundred and a steady 96 by Nadkarni took Bombay to 346, in spite of a career-best eight wicket haul by Durani.

When Rajasthan batted again, only Manjrekar and Mankad offered some resistance as Desai and Baloo Gupte ran through the innings. Set 44 to win, Bombay made heavy weather of the paltry target, but in the end got there in the 10th over.

Brief Scores: Rajasthan 140 (VL Manjrekar 40, RB Desai 7 for 46) and 249 (Manjrekar 68, MH Mankad  43, Desai 4 for 74) lost to Bombay 346 (RG Nadkarni 96, GS Ramchand 118, Durani 8 for 99) and 44 for 3 by 7 wickets.

13. 1961-62: Bombay versus Rajasthan

The two sides met again in the following year, but the desired close contest did not materialise. If anything, the match was even more one sided.

Although Gupte and Raj Singh Dungarpur captured four wickets each, a 263-run alliance between Wadekar and Ramchand allowed the defending champions to pile up a huge first-innings score.

Sharad Diwadkar and Baloo Gupte then spun out the Rajasthan line up with hardly any resistance. When Rajasthan followed on, it was a tussle for wickets between the Bombay bowlers. The match ended as early as the third afternoon with 14 wickets falling that day.

Brief Scores: Bombay 539 (AL Wadekar 235, GS Ramchand 100, SJ Diwadkar 44, Raj Singh 4 for 86, SP Gupte 4 for 152) bt Rajasthan 157 (Diwadkar 5 for 68, BP Gupte 4 for 35) and 95 (Hanumant Singh 48*) by an innings and 287 runs.

14. 1962-63: Bombay versus Rajasthan

This year, to make the balance tilt further in favour of Bombay, Farokh Engineer, Dilip Sardesai, Bapu Nadkarni and West Indian pace bowler Sven Charlie Stayers came in to the side.

By the second day, Bombay had already put it beyond the challengers. Surprisingly, most of their runs came from men more who played for India because of their bowling. Nadkarni piled up a mammoth 219. Ramakant Desai, sent in as a night-watchman, frustrated the front-line batsmen of Bombay by compiling a century while ignoring several messages sent from the dressing room, asking him to throw away his wicket. By the time the innings was closed, Ramchand had scored his fourth successive ton in Ranji finals.

The Caribbean fast bowler, Stayers, now tore into the Rajasthan batting, reducing them to 28 for four. Hanumant Singh and Kishan Rungta fought back for a brief while, but the innings folded for 196.

When Rajasthan followed on, Hanumant and Rungta batted well again to post half centuries and Manjrekar showed some glimpses of his class with a well-paced hundred, but even a considerably better second innings performance could not prevent the challengers from losing by an innings.

Brief Scores: Bombay 551 for 6 dec. (RG Nadkarni 219, RB Desai 107, GS Ramchand 102*, PR Umrigar 63) bt Rajasthan 196 (Hanumant Singh 62, KM Rungta 64, SV Stayers 6 for 36) and 336 (Hanumant Singh 50, Rungta 80, VL Manjrekar 108, GR Sunderam 52) by an innings and 19 runs.

15. 1963-64 : Bombay versus Rajasthan

The sides met for the fourth consecutive year. This time, Rajasthan was boosted the return of Salim Durani, who was not available for the previous year’s final.

Bombay, led by Nadkarni, was full of stars but it was the long serving stalwart Sharad Diwadkar who did the star turn. The off-spinning all-rounder hammered 177 and new comer Ashok Mankad scored 80 as Bombay piled up 526. Following this, Desai and Nadkarni made short work of the Rajasthan first innings, bundling them for 108.

Rajasthan fared considerably better in the second innings, with Durani and Manjrekar adding 156 for the third wicket, and then Hanumant Singh hitting a polished century. But, apart from these three players of international calibre, the rest of the batting put up little resistance. Bombay were left with 21 runs to win and got there within four and a half overs.

Brief Scores: Bombay 526 (SJ Diwadkar 177, SG Adhikari 53, NS Tamhane 53, AV mankad 80, GR Sunderam 4 for 101) and 21 for no loss bt Rajasthan 108 and 438 (SA Durani 108, VL Manjrekar 105, Hanumant Singh 128) by 10 wickets.

16. 1964-65 : Bombay versus Hyderabad

With a strong side, Hyderabad was considered the other team besides Rajasthan who could challenge Bombay for the cricketing crown. However, after some excellent showing in the earlier rounds, ML Jaisimha, Abbas Ali Baig, Abid Ali and the rest of them ran out of steam in the finals.

After a solid start provided by Sardesai and Engineer, Nadkarni scored another huge hundred – stopping six short of his second double ton in the title round. None of the Hyderabad stars clicked when they batted, the spin of Baloo Gupte proving too much to handle. Two identical totals of 235 ensured a win by an innings for Bombay, making it six in a row.

Brief Scores: Bombay 596 (RG Nadkarni 194, DN Sardesai 79, FM Engineer 71, AL Wadekar 76, SJ Diwadkar 48, SV More 57) bt Hyderabad 235 (Habib Ahmed 43, WaheedYar Khan 78, S Saleem 42*,  BP Gupte 5 for 62) and 235 (Habib Ahmed 46) by an innings and 126 runs.

17. 1965-66: Bombay versus Rajasthan

By this time, it had become a recurring story of one-sided contests. The Rajasthan team were all out for 125 and Bombay sat pretty at 114 for two by the end of the first day. Hardikar, the old reliable, did the damage with six wickets.

Wadekar and Sardesai added 212 for the third wicket, taking the match well beyond from the challengers. Sardesai missed his century by one run, and Wadekar fell 15 short of a double hundred. However, the rest of the batting collapsed.

With a deficit of 257, Rajasthan did have a glimmer of hope when Rajendra Rungta and night-watchman Kailash Gattani added 145 for the second wicket, but Desai and Hardikar were too experienced for them to somehow manufacture a recovery. Bombay triumphed by eight wickets.

Brief Scores: Rajasthan 125 (MS Hardikar 6 for 25) and 288 (RN Rungta 60, KR Gattani 91, RB Desai 4 for 72) lost to Bombay 382 (CT Patankar 44, DN Sardesai 99, AL Wadekar 185, CB Joshi 6 for 83) and 32 for 2 by 8 wickets.

18. 1966-67: Bombay versus Rajasthan

This was the first time Bombay had to win on first-innings lead.

Rajasthan started off well enough. A Hanumant Singh hundred had taken them to 193 for 2, but a late order collapse kept the score down to 284.

In response, Sardesai piled up 199 and Bombay overtook the challengers early on the third day losing just two wickets. But, they kept on batting well into the fourth day with Nadkarni and Hardikar scoring hundreds.

When Rajasthan batted a second time, almost five sessions remained, but Hanumant Singh, in sublime form, amassed a double hundred. Rajasthan declared after setting a target of 144 in less than an hour. Bombay was not interested to attempt an outright win.

Brief Scores: Rajasthan 284 (Hanumant Singh 109, Suryaveer Singh 79) and 445 for 7 dec ( Hanumant Singh 213*, Suryaveer Singh  132, PH Sharma 74) drew with Bombay 586 (DN Sardesai 199, AL Wadekar 83, RG Nadkarni 103, MS Hardikar 108*, ED Solkar 50, CG Joshi 4 for 182) and 54 for 2. Match awarded to Bombay on first innings lead.

19. 1967-68 : Bombay versus Madras

With AG Milkha Singh as their premier batsman and the young spinners Srinivas Venkataraghavan and VV Kumar in their ranks, Madras was a good side, but no one expected them to give Bombay a run for their money. However, with most of the Test stars away on Test duty in New Zealand, a second-string Bombay side was given a scare.

It had started as was had become the ritual of Ranji finals. Arun Varde took a few early wickets with his medium pacers and reduced the Madras batting to 21 for four. Soon, it became 109 for eight. However, a remarkable recovery was engineered by tail-enders R Prabhakar and Chandroth Bhaskaran, both with little reputation as batsmen. With VV Kumar also sticking around for a while, Madras staggered back into the fray, ending with 258. And then Bhaskaran and Prabhakar, charged up with their batting performances, opened the bowling with a lot of vimreduced Bombay to 31 for three. A miracle seemed looming on the horizon.

It was not to be. Ashok Mankad and Hardikar added 168 runs for the fourth wicket. Some late strikes by Kumar and Venkat made it interesting, but Bombay led by 52 after the first innings.

By the end of the third day, openers Patamada Beliappa and Kakkudasam Rajagopal had taken Madras to 111 for no loss and Bombay’s supremacy again seemed under genuine threat.

The next day, wickets were lost quickly, but a half century by Michael Dalvi ensured a decent target of 249. The fourth day ended at 45 for one, and an exciting final day was on the cards.

It was a see-saw battle, but when Kumar and Venkat reduced Bombay to 109 for five, the reigning champions opted for a safety-first approach. Eknath Solkar and Hardikar played out time and needing 249 for an outright win, Bombay finished on 225 for five. This was the closest final since the start of their dominance.

Brief Scores: Madras 258 (R Prabhakar 67, C Bhaskaran 76*, AP Verde 4 for 45) and 302 (PK Beliappa 51, KR Rajagopal 73, M Dalvi 51, V BalajiRao 43) drew with Bombay 312 (AV Mankad 112, MS Hardikar 73, VR Karkhanis 53, Bhaskaran 4 for 68) and 225 for 5 (Karkhanis 43, Hardikar 62*, ED Solkar 55*). Match awarded to Bombay on first innings lead.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

Earlier part:  Ranji Trophy Mumbai’s 39 title triumph – Part 1 of 4