During a Ranji Trophy 2022/23 match in Jamtha, Nagpur, Vidarbha successfully defended 73 against Gujarat to set a new record for first-class cricket on Indian soil.
Back in 1948/49, Delhi were 38-2 in pursuit of 78 against Bihar at the Keenan Stadium in Jamshedpur. Then they collapsed to 48 all out at the hands of Shute Banerjee (6-22) and ‘Potla’ Bose (4-25). Until today, that remained the lowest total defended in a first-class match in India – and, as a logical conclusion, in the Ranji Trophy.
Chasing 73 at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium – the venue of India’s first Test match in the series against Australia that starts next month – Gujarat had lost Priyesh Patel on the third evening. Resuming the day on 6-1, they lost Aarya Desai on 16, but were in no real threat of a defeat at 26-2.
The last eight wickets fell for 28, in 20.2 overs, against left-arm spinners Aditya Sarwate (6-17) and Harsh Dubey (3-11). Siddharth Desai (18), the only Gujarat batter to survive them – he was run out – was also the only one to reach double figures.
Gujarat made 54, a total that included 10 extras. Sarwate finished with match figures of 11-71 and Dubey with 5-38. Sarwate was named the Player of the Match (he had also made 17 in Vidarbha’s first-innings total of 74).
Akshay Wadkar’s decision to bat first had met with some flak after Vidarbha’s first innings collapse against Gujarat seamers, Chintan Gaja (5-31) and Tejas Patel (5-19). The criticism only increased when Aarya Desai (88) helped Gujarat pile a lead of 182.
By then, the pitch was already taking turn, and Desai exploited the conditions to take 6-74, Vidarbha seemed out of the contest at 149-7, but Jitesh Sharma (69) and Nachiket Bhute (42) added 78 to help them stay afloat. Bhute went on to add another 25 for the last wicket with Yash Thakur (5*). Sarwate and Dubey did the rest.
The lowest total defended successfully in all first-class cricket still stands at 41. Back in 1794, Oldfield bowled out the MCC for 34 at the Lord’s Old Ground.
Vidarbha also defended the third-lowest total in the 21st century. In a 2012/13 Logan Cup match in Masvingo, the Southern Rocks defended 64 by bowling out the Mountaineers for 26 (Tinashe Panyangara took 4-4 and Tawanda Mupariwa 6-17).
And in a WICB Professional Cricket League Regional 4 Day Tournament match in 2014/15, Guyana won a thriller in Providence. Chasing 69, Barbados were 34-4 before they collapsed to 66 against Dwayne Smith (5-17).