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Jackson ton takes Saurashtra to Vijay Hazare Trophy title over Maharashtra

Jackson's last nine innings had seen him scoring just one fifty while his last four innings had scores of 0, 8, 32, and 0.

Saurashtra players celebrate along with their families after winning the Vijay Hazare Trophy. (Express photo)
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Sheldon Jackson wanted to make a reel on “Mein nahin to kaun be” for a long time, but couldn’t. It had been a dry Vijay Hazare Trophy for the veteran Saurashtra batsman till the team reached the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium. His last nine innings had seen him scoring just one fifty while his last four innings had scores of 0, 8, 32 and 0.

A middle-order batsman, Jackson was asked to open before the team played the knockout rounds. Saurashtra captain Jaydev Unadkat had a hunch that his most experienced batter will deliver when the team needed him the most.

And the 36-year-old came good in the title clash. His unbeaten 133 took Saurashtra to its second Vijay Hazare Trophy title as they defeated Maharashtra by five wickets and 21 balls to spare.

The last few months have seen Jackson going through personal loss and rejection. Last month, he lost his uncle Lester Bell, who had adopted him when he was four year old. He wasn’t able to attend the funeral either.


He has been frustrated and disappointed not to even get a chance for India A despite performing, at a time when selectors said that age is just a number.

In August this year, Jackson expressed his frustration on social media. “I have a right to believe and dream that if I have performed for 3 continuous seasons, I may get picked on the basis of my performances not age. Tired of hearing that I’m a good player and performer, but I’m old. I’m 35, not 75,” he wrote.

On Friday, Saurashtra, chasing 249 for victory, got the perfect start from their openers Harvik Desai and Jackson, who added 125 runs in 26.4 overs. It seemed an easy chase till they lost two quick wickets with Jay Gohil and Smarth Vyas departing in quick succession. However, Jackson held one end up and was determined not to let this chance go. Saurashtra lost two more wickets – those of Arpit Vasavada and Prerak Mankad – and were 192/5 at one stage.

However, Jackson and his longtime room partner, all-rounder Chirag Jani, who had taken a hat-trick earlier in the day, saw the team through. Jackson’s innings included seven fours and four sixes.

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After the game, Jackson reiterated his belief that he has in him to play top-level cricket.

“I still believe that I have it in me. Yes, before the game I was low in confidence because I had come to the final with no runs. I would like to thank Jaydev Unadkat and Jaydev Shah for not putting me under any pressure. They never told me that ‘you are a senior player and you have to do it’. That put my mind at rest. I am very thankful to them for backing me. They trusted me so much and I had to do it for them,” he said.

Earlier, Maharashtra posted 248 for 9 courtesy another hundred from Ruturaj Gaikwad. In the last five Vijay Hazare Trophy matches this season, he has slammed four hundreds. In the final, the Maharashtra opener made 108 before getting run out at a crucial moment.

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Saurashtra pounced on the opportunity, especially Jani, who grabbed a hat-trick by taking the wickets of lower-order batsmen Saurabh Nawale, Rajvardhan Hangargekar and Vicky Ostwal.

Saurashtra knew someone had to stand up and bat throughout the chase, and Jackson rose to the occasion.

Jackson hopes that after this win, people will take Saurashtra seriously. The team has made it to seven finals of various senior tournaments over the last decade. After the final, it may be his Saurashtra teammates who will be making a reel on Jackson and singing ‘tu nahin to kaun be’.

Brief scores: Maharashtra 248 for 9 (Gaikwad 108; Jani 3-43) lost to Saurashtra 249 for 5 (Jackson 133*, Desai 50, Ostwal 2-20) by five wickets

Barot’s widow attends final

Late former Saurashtra wicket keeper batsman Avi Barot’s wife Nidhi. (Express photo)

Before the team played the final, the families of the Saurashtra players stationed themselves in the stands. Unadkat urged them to win it for the families who have stood by them throughout their journey. A few players called Nidhi, widow of late Avi Barot, the Saurashtra wicketkeeper-batsman who died last year due to a heart attack at the age of 30.

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“It was emotional to see the final. I felt Avi was there with the team and cheering for them. He always wanted to see Saurashtra win,” Nidhi said. “Few of his teammates called me and requested to come for the game. I couldn’t say no to them, it was emotional to sit on the ground. I could sense that Avi was there somewhere and watching this game.”

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Unadkat said: “We remember him every time we play a big game. It’s very special for her to be around.”

First published on: 02-12-2022 at 21:14 IST
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