It seemed that Saurashtra would have the final laugh after they had bowled Vidarbha for only 200 in the Ranji Trophy Final. However, by evening, the 206-run target seemed like a long way away for Saurashtra.
Their hopes of winning their first-ever Ranji Trophy title slipped further away in a matter of only five deliveries in the third session.
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) February 6, 2019
Cheteshwar Disappoints Once Again
It was a nightmare for Saurashtra starman Cheteshwar Pujara again. Having walked into the fray with the team in crisis at 22/2, the talisman returned to the pavilion after facing just 5 deliveries. It was Vidarbha’s left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate trapped Pujara leg-before for a duck in the second innings. It would probably his biggest scalp of the season and first-class career as well.
The visitors concluded the fourth day on 58/5, with another 148 runs needed to take home the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy title.
After Pujara’s ouster, Umesh Yadav joined the party as well, eliciting an edge off Arpit Vasavada (5) to further decimate Saurashtra to 35/4.
Sheldon Jackson, Saurashtra’s last specialist batsman, went out after an ugly slog off Akshay Wakhare. The ball that had kept low missed his bat to hit the stumps.
Saurashtra’s last big hope will be the No. 3 Vishvaraj Jadeja who remained unbeaten at 23 off 68 balls. He will have all-rounder Kamlesh Makvana for the company.
On a progressively crumbling track at the Jamtha stadium, Nagpur, Sarwate’s wrist is doing magic. He has already picked up first three of the Saurashtra wickets, with furthermore in the offing.
First innings’ centurion and hero Snell Patel was also the first one to walk back. He could manage only 12 before edging the left-arm spinner to Wasim Jaffer standing at first slip.
Young opener Harvik Desai soon followed him in Sarwate’s following over. The in-form spinner got a leading edge back to the bowler. The wicket marked the eighth scalp of his innings.
Before the over ended, Sarwate followed it up with a big wicket of Pujara off the final ball.
Earlier in the day, Sarwate had impacted the game with his bat itself. He gave the defending champions a target to bowl for with an impressive inning of 49. The 133-ball knock by the all-rounder helped the home side rise up from 73/5 in the first session.
After resuming at 55/2, Jadeja first got his prized scalp of Wasim Jaffer, Vidarbha’s highest scorer this season, for only 11. Ganesh Satish, also followed his soon enough, having gotten an inside-edge off Jadeja three balls later. By that time Vidarbha had slipped to 72/4. However, like Saurashtra in the first innings, it was the tailenders that came to the defending champions’ rescue.
Saurashtra has responded from such tense situations in the past. It will be interesting to see if they could manage the same tomorrow. For one last time.