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Rest chase 480, lift Irani Cup

 MUMBAI, March 10: Rest of India batsmen displayed collective brilliance as they planned a classic run-chase to perfection against Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai, winning the Irani Cup by 4 wickets reaching a mammoth victory target of 480 runs, here today.

Vidarbha’s left-handed opener Faiz Fazal (127, 280 balls) and Sudeep Chatterjee (54) of Bengal held the innings together for the first part while Karun Nair (92, 132 balls), Stuart Binny (54 off 51 balls), Sheldon Jackson (59 no) pounced on the opportunity to pulverise a below-par bowling attack taking the team to victory in 129.4 overs.

Starting the day at 100 for 1 and needing 380 more runs on the final day to achieve the third-highest successful run-chase in Indian first class cricket history, Rest achieved the target with 20 balls to spare.

Fazal led the way at the top of the order with a patient 127, his 11th first class hundred, in 280 balls with 10 fours, besides featuring in two century stands – 110 for the second wicket with Chatterjee and 130 for the 3rd wicket with Nair, who hit seven boundaries. It was Nair, who got the man-of-the-match award for scoring pair of 90’s.

Though Mumbai fought back with left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdullah (5/154) striking thrice in quick time to pack off this trio of batsmen, and captain Naman Ojha (29) was run out brilliantly, Rest had enough quality batsmen – especially the hard-hitting Binny – to overhaul the stiff target from their tea score of 321 for 3.

They needed 159 from 35 overs in the final session and achieved their goal. The final charge after being enabled by the partnership of 92 runs in 101 balls and 56 minutes for the sixth wicket between Karnataka’s Binny and Saurashtra’s Sheldon Jackson.

Binny, who struck two towering sixes – including one into the press box on the second storey of the club house - and also hit three fours, fell when Rest needed 35 runs, caught cutting Abdullah at point.

But Rest were far ahead in their quest and succeeded in denying Mumbai any additional silverware for the season and also prevented the 41-time Ranji champions from lifting the Irani title for the 16th occasion and the first since 1997-98.

Jackson, who remained unbeaten after facing 76 balls and striking four fours and a six, and Jayant Yadav (19 not out) helped the Rest cross the finish line with ease in the end, the former also fittingly hitting the winning shot – a four.

Their unconquered seventh wicket partnership was worth 37 runs. The Rest batsmen’s exploits on the final day thoroughly exposed the lack of sting in the Mumbai bowling attack on a batsmen friendly Brabourne Stadium track.

Brief scores: Mumbai 603 and 182 lost to Rest of India 306 and 482 for 6 (Faiz Fazal 127, K S Bharat 42, S Chatterjee 54, K Nair 92, S Jackson not out 59, S Binny 54, J Yadav 19 not out; I Abdullah 5/154). – PTI

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