Even before the start of the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy final, it would have been safe to say that dominance and Karnataka go hand in hand, and that could not have been exemplified in any better way than how they defended their title beating Tamil Nadu by an innings and 217 runs at the Wankhdede Stadium, Mumbai.
The beauty of the longer format of the game is that it allows the teams various opportunities to make comebacks when pushed to the wall, but it also presents the dominant team to grind their opponent to the hilt once the momentum is seized.
Karnataka grabbed the initiative by bundling out Tamil Nadu for 134 on day one, and even though TN fought back to reduce the defending champions to 16 for 3, they failed to build on the opening and the momentum shifted, shifted a bit more and then a lot more, to leave the 12-time Ranji trophy finalists TN chasing leather close to three consecutive days. If Karun Nair's record-setting 328 and KL Rahul's valiant 188 was not enough, Vinay (105*) scored his second first-class ton to throw TN out of the equation.
The last final that TN played was in 2011-12, during which Vineet Saxena's sleep inducing 907 minutes vigil for 257 runs, had reduced TN to dust. Talking about that match, TN skipper Abhinav Mukund had described that final as a blur and unfortunately for him, this season's final too would be a blur.
Resuming the final day at 113 for 3, with the result certain, the only thing TN could fight for was to avoid an outright win, and it seemed they might manage to do courtesy Dinesh Karthik's whirlwind innings off 120 that came off 111 balls with the help of 21 boundaries and a six. Once Karthik was out, Karnataka wrapped up the tail in no time to complete their emphatic triumph.
Earlier in the day, overnight batsmen Baba Aparajith and Vijay Shankar were rarely tested by the Karnataka bowlers as the duo went on to compile their respective fifties early in the morning session, but a lapse in concentration saw him edge a legside delivery from Sreenath Arvind to wicketkeeper Robin Uthappa for 68.
Vijayshankar was joined by Karthik in the middle and the sparse crowd gathered at the Sunil Gavaskar pavilion were entertained by the former India wicketkeeper. A natural stroke-maker, Karthik batted with the freedom of man who had nothing to lose, hitting 11 boundaries en route to his 50 off 53 balls, including five fours in one Shreyas over. Vijayshankar too helped himself to 18 boundaries to reach to his third first-class ton off 237 balls.
There was no clear pattern in the bowling changes that Vinay Kumar made, but once the new ball was taken after lunch, the skipper, who had claimed 5 for 34 in the first innings, got himself in to the attack for the third time on day five and removed centurion Vijayshankar with a short ball, a tough caught and bowled chance, taking his wickets tally to 48 the joint-highest for the season alongside Mumbais Shardul Thakur.
Karthik was going strong and went on to clobbered eight more boundaries and six to notch up his 23rd first-class ton of just 95 balls, but perished trying to execute an inside out shot only to be caught at deep extra cover. Shreyas added the wicket of Aswin Crist and Arvind removed Molalan Rangarajan, as TN were all out for 411, with last batsman Prashanth Parameswaran not coming out to bat owing to an injury he sustained while fielding.
Brief Scores: Tamil Nadu 134 (Abhinav Mukund 35; Vinay Kumar 5/34) and 411 (Dinesh Karthik 120; Shreyas Gopal 4/126) lost to Karnataka 762 (Karun Nair 328, KL Rahul 188; Lakshmipathy Balaji 3/120) by an innings and 217 runs.