Jammu and Kashmir continued their rapid rise in domestic cricket, notching a stunning four-wicket victory over 40-time champions Mumbai, with more than a session to spare, in their Group A Ranji Trophy opener at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, on Wednesday.
Chasing a modest target of 237, and resuming on their overnight score of 58 for 1, J&K kept composure despite losing five more wickets to reach the target 73 minutes after lunch on the fourth and final day of the match.
The visitors lost overnight unbeaten batsman Bandeep Singh quite early, but then were aided by small partnerships that steered them home.
First innings centurion Shubhum Khajuria scored 78 in 227 minutes before he was fourth out, when the side needed 66 more runs for victory.
He added 52 runs with Ian Chauhan (30) off 175 balls for the third wicket to set the side on way to the target after the early loss of overnight not out batsman Bandeep Singh.
Later, Khajuria put on 53 invaluable runs with his captain, Parveez Rasool (32), off 63 balls for the fourth wicket to bring J&K closer to the target.
Though both departed at the same score of 171, Hardeep Singh (41 not out) guided the team to the target, adding 44 runs for the sixth wicket with Waseem Raja.
After the latter's dismissal, Hardeep, who batted for 104 minutes and hit four fours, added 22 runs for the unconquered seventh-wicket with wicketkeeper Obaid Haroon (9 not out) to dash Mumbai's hopes.
"To beat Mumbai in Mumbai is a great achievement. Our graph has been rising steadily over the last two-three years, but we were told playing in elite division is different. We have answered that question," said Rasool, after beating the heavyweights in their very first meeting in 80 years of the tournament.
Team coach Sunil Joshi said for the first time in the last 20 years, he saw Mumbai’s batsmen "showing vulnerability against pace bowling”.
"Our morale is up after this victory," said Rasool, who rued that J&K would not be playing a single home match this season.
"We don't have any home advantage this season. Three out of our four victories last season were clinched at home," the J&K captain, the first cricketer from the state to have represented India, said.
"We have done so well despite lack of sufficient preparations (due to unprecedented floods in the Kashmir valley) which shows we have good potential. Due to the floods the Srinagar boys, including myself, had a 15-day camp at Nagpur while the Jammu boys trained at their home town," added Rasool.
Asked what he told his teammates after his experiences with the India and India ‘A’ teams, Rasool replied, "I have told them to inculcate self-belief."
He also praised Khajuria’s batting, saying it was "commendable”.
Asked whether he was worried about the lower order carrying the team home after the first innings collapse, when they lost the last five wickets for one run, he said, "We are not as bad as was made out by that happening."
Coach Joshi ascribed the victory to "team effort”.
"We did well in the one-day tournament (held before the Ranji Trophy). Our bowling is good. We need to work some more on our batting. Playing away from home will give the team more exposure," said the former India left arm spinner.
Former India great and former J&K coach Bishen Singh Bedi tweeted: "Gr8 job done J&K boys! Beating B'bay in their backyard is superb effort indeed-now keep up gud work!'Josh' keep 'em on their toes, don't relax."
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also tweeted: "J&K beat Mumbai by four wickets to register a historic win in Ranji Trophy. A special moment for the J&K players. Well Done Boys."
Mumbai 236 & 254 lost to J&K 254 & 237 for 6 (Shubham Khajuria 78, Ian Chauhan 30, Parveez Rasool 32, Hardeep Singh not out 41, Obaid Haroon not out 9; Vishal Dhabolkar 2 for 67) by four wickets.
Result: Jammu & Kashmir won by 4 wickets