Saurashtra will take on current champions Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy final from February 3 at Nagpur and their skipper Jaydev Unadkat believes there’s none better than Cheteshwar Pujara to guide the players.
Pujara, who had an outstanding Test series with the bat in Australia, carried his form into the Ranji Trophy knockout for Saurashtra on his return.
He played two match-winning, unbeaten knocks in the quarter-final and semi-final against Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka respectively, to guide Saurashtra into the summit clash.
“I have been saying this since the Lucknow game (quarter-final against Uttar Pradesh), we cannot have (someone) with a better influence than him (Pujara) in the team. He has been the pillar for India now, like he has been for Saurashtra for a long period of time,” Unadkat told PTI on Wednesday when asked what Pujara brings to the team.
The 27-year-old Porbandar-born Unadkat feels that Saurashtra are fortunate to have the services of Pujara for the knock-out stages of the national championship.
“And we can’t have anyone better than him (Pujara) to guide our players. We have chased down a couple of targets and it was all down to the way he batted himself and he carried others alongside him.
“We are fortunate to have him in the team, at the moment, in the knock-out stage and looking forward for one more performance,” said the left-arm speedster.
The Saurashtra captain also feels that his team is in good mental space.
“But having said that it is not just (about) him, all the guys are playing their best game. During knock-outs, away from home, you need everyone to step up and it can’t be one or two guys, so that’s what we have been doing in the last two games.
“The victories have been special. After the Lucknow game, I had said – it is one of the best victories that Saurashtra has ever had. And the semi-final (against Karnataka) was nothing short of that, the way we played our cricket. It was one such intense game that I was part of,” the pacer said.
“I would say, we are really in great space of mind as a team and we are all binding, playing together and supporting each other. There can’t be a better mental space for the team to be in than what we are at the moment. The momentum is on our side,” he added.
Unadkat hopes that his team could carry their form into the final.
“It’s the final of the Ranji Trophy, so the match is going to be good and both the teams are good on paper. Let’s hope for a great game and I hope we keep on playing the way we have been playing through this season,” Unadkat concluded.