Defending champions Vidarbha won their second successive Ranji Trophy title after beating Saurashtra by 78 runs at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur on Thursday. On their own turf, Aditya Sarwate emerged as the pick of the lot with 11 wickets, five in the first innings and six in the second, with 49 crucial runs as well. He was, unsurprisingly, named as the Man of the Match for his game changing involvement and deny Saurashtra, led by Jaydev Unadkat with Cheteshwar Pujara in their midst, a maiden title.
Set a target of 206, Saurashtra folded for 127 in the 59th over on the fifth day, giving Vidarbha their second title triumph in the country’s marquee first-class tournament.
Left arm spinner Sarwate’s influence with the ball was telling as he got rid of Pujara in both innings. India’s middle order batsman came into domestic cricket on the back of a series winning showing in Australia and played a key role in guiding Saurashtra to the final. But in the final, he had no answer to the spinner’s mastery as he fell for 1 and 0 in the two innings.
— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) February 7, 2019
— Anjum Chopra (@chopraanjum) February 7, 2019
Congratulations Vidarbha on being deserving winners and for retaining the Ranji Trophy. May you keep on going from strength to strength and cherish this special moment.
— VVS Laxman (@VVSLaxman281) February 7, 2019
Well done Vidarbha! What a success story this has been…Vidarbha cricket. 👏👏👏🙏🙏🙏#RanjiTrophy
— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) February 7, 2019
Coming into the fifth day, Saurashtra had their backs against the wall. They resumed from 58/5, needing 148 runs more, with Vishvaraj Jadeja in the middle. He was going to be crucial in the attempted run chase and the Saurashtra player went about cautiously. Coming on alongside Kamlesh Makvana, the duo defied Vidarbha’s bowlers for the first half an hour.
But an error in judgement from Makvana allowed Vidarbha and Sarwate the breakthrough. As he expected the ball to pitch and spin away from his off stump, while offering no shot, the ball remained straight and clipped the top of off stump. This dismissal allowed the floodgates to open.
Shortly after Prerak Mankad fell, Jadeja got to his third fifty in first class cricket but departed soon. He went for the sweep to Sarwate following a drinks break and the lapse in concentration cost him and Saurashtra dearly. He missed a rash sweep shot and was struck on the thigh which was going on to hit the middle stump. As he stood around for a few seconds, looking downward, he immediately knew the mistake but there was no turning back. It proved to be the final nail in the coffin.
Unlike the first innings where the last two wickets battled it out for Saurashtra, they didn’t hang around for long. Unadkat and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, who took seven wickets, departed playing the sweep shot.
Winning captain Faiz Fazal said at the post match presentation ceremony, “Really happy with the entire season but more happy with the way we played this final. Can’t thank them enough, each and every member of the support stuff has been incredible. They give us everything and make our life comfortable.”
With Saurashtra losing a third Ranji Trophy final, Unadkat remained upbeat for the future and willing to lead. “The final lived up to its expectation. It was a close game and we fought really hard. Credit goes to Vidarbha. The brand of cricket we played was impressive and until I am leading this bunch, I will ensure that we play the same way. Many guys debuted this season and had a good run in the team. It wasn’t just about Cheteshwar or Ravindra, but the youngsters stood up in the knockouts and in the league stage,” he said.
BRIEF SCORES: Vidarbha: 312 (Akshay Karnewar 73; Jaydev Unadkat 3/54) and 200 (Aditya Sarwate 49; Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 6/96) beat Saurashtra: 307 (Snell Patel 102; Aditya Sarwate 5/98) and 127 (Vishvaraj Jadeja 52; Aditya Sarwate 6/59) by 78 runs.