7th May 1991 saw the closest Ranji Trophy final finish when Kapil Dev’s Haryana beat Sanjay Manjarekar’s Mumbai by just two runs at latter’s home ground, the Wankhede stadium. It was an unbelievable chase made possible by experienced Dilip Vengsarkar and the 18-year old Sachin Tendulkar but finished very near yet so far.
Mumbai had eight test players in their squad whereas Haryana had Kapil Dev, Chetan Sharma and Ajay Jadeja, who would make his test debut in a few years time. Still Haryana players fought hard under inspirational captaincy of Kapil. Batting first they put up a massive 522, thanks to 199 from the opener Deepak Sharma. Jadeja and Chetan Sharma also contributed 94 and 98. For Mumbai, debutant Abey Kuruvilla picked up four wickets. Mumbai could score only 410 in their first innings and conceded a lead of 112. For them night watch-man Sanjay Patil was the top scorer with 85 and Tendulkar contributed 47. In the Haryana second innings, all the Mumbai bowlers chipped in and got them all-out for 242 and that way the target was set for 355. It was already day five and only two and half session left but for Mumbai they had no other option than going for the chase as the first innings lead would give the trophy to Haryana anyway.
Mumbai started poorly and went to lunch with 34/3 and Manjarekar already left. Vengsarkar joined by Tendulkar, and both took their team back to the match. Tendulkar batted fiercely and hit shots all around the ground. A flat six through mid off was especially remarkable. Mumbai had to chase at a run rate nearly five per over and Tedulkar ensured that they were not falling behind. His 96 off 75 again proved his class but then he fell to carry on and got caught on a full toss by Jadeja. Vinod Kambli came next and scored 45 runs as Mumbai inched closer.
Once Kambli was gone, Mumbai lost their next four wickets for 56 runs. Vengsarkar was still batting and scored a wonderful hundred but at 305 for 9, Mumbai looked down and out. But Kuruvilla came and provided good support. In one over Vengsarkar took 26 runs with three sixes and two four. Slowly Mumbai reached 352 with three more runs required. By that time Lalchand Rajput was also on ground as a runner for Vengsarkar. Kuruvilla played a shot near short fine leg, Rajput ran. Kuruvilla hesitated and finally were short of crease at the non-striker end to get run out. Vengsarkar watched all this standing at the square leg and could not do anything. Finally Haryana completed the unthinkable of beating Mumbai in their den. The entire ground was distraught. Vengsarkar cried on the ground but Kapil’s team showed great determination and ended victorious in the closest Ranji Trophy final.