"The boys have really been playing great throughout the season. It has been a thorough performance from everyone in the team and the entire VCA," said a beaming Fazal after the win.
Set a stiff target of 280 in the final innings, the Vidarbha batsmen led by a classy 87 from Ganesh Sathish and a nerveless 72 by 18-year-old Atharva Taide, came 11 runs short of chasing the target before the Fazal and Rest of India captain Ajinkya Rahane settled for a draw.
What pleased Fazal, even more, was the fact that Vidarbha won the title despite missing big names such as Wasim Jaffer and Umesh Yadav, who with were both out nursing niggles.
"That shows that we have some character and the way the guys came to the big occasion and performed so well was excellent. I think that belief will also help us in future when Wasim bhai will not be there, Umesh will on national duty, so that belief will be very important for each one of us," said Fazal.
In a heartwarming gesture, in the end, Fazal also announced that the Vidarbha players and the support staff will be donating all the prize money to the martyrs who lost their lives in the terror attack in Pulwama yesterday.
"We as a team have decided to donate the prize money to the family of the martyrs who lost their lives in Pulwama. This is a small gesture from our team and VCA."
Ajinkya Rahane, the Rest of India captain also lauded the Vidarbha team and the grit they had shown throughout the season. He further said that all the other domestic teams should learn from Vidarbha and follow their path.
"I would like to congratulate the Vidarbha team. It is not easy to win back to back Ranji Trophy and back to back Irani trophy," said Rahane at the post-match presentation ceremony.
"I think all the teams should learn from them, every domestic team should learn from them, their consistency throughout the year, this year again they played so well."
Rahane lamented the first innings collapse when Rest of India after being in a good position early on lost their last few wickets for not many to be bowled out for 330. He pointed out that the VCA track was easily a 400-450 run surface and that is what made the difference in the end.
"We had our chances, first innings I thought we started really well but losing eight wickets for 100-odd runs was disappointing. You have got to grind it out and be patient. But we have to be patient and learn from our mistakes," he said.
"In the first innings, we should have avoided such a batting collapse. This wicket was 400-450 wicket and that was the difference."
While there were plenty of noteworthy performances, Akshay Karnewar's maiden first-class century from No.8 earned him the Man of the Match award. He also picked up the key wicket of Shreyas Iyer in the first innings.
"It is a special feeling to become Ranji and Irani champions twice over. My first hundred, that too in an Irani trophy game and against such a good side, it feels really nice," said Karnewar.
Ajinkya RahaneAtharva TaideFaiz FazalGanesh SathishHanuma VihariIrani CupIrani TrophyIrani trophy 2019vidarbha
First Published: February 16, 2019, 4:51 PM IST