Skipper Unadkat leads from the front as Saurashtra lifts trophy with nine-wicket victory over Bengal
Inspiring skipper Jaydev Unadkat led by example with a six-wicket haul to guide Saurashtra to an authoritative nine-wicket victory over Bengal on Sunday and underscored his team’s ascendancy in red-ball cricket by winning the second crown in three seasons on the fourth day of the Ranji Trophy final at the Eden Gardens here.
Facing an uphill task and a deficit of 61 runs, Bengal resumed its fightback from 169 for four to barely avoid the ignominy of an innings defeat at home by posting 241.
In a repeat of the result of the 2020 final back home in Rajkot, Saurashtra chased down the easy target of 12 runs prior to lunch. at its captain and former Kolkata Knight Riders player Unadkat’s ‘second home’.
The unbeaten pair of captain Manoj Tiwary (68, 154b, 10×4) and Shahbaz Ahmed (27, 38b, 4×4) began in right earnest and added 48 before Shahbaz was run out due to a horrible mix-up with his skipper, who erred in calling for a third run, in the sixth over of the day.
It was a deadly blow as Bengal lost three more wickets in the next six overs with Unadkat, who had scalped Sudip Gharami and Anustup Majumdar overnight, doing most of the damage.
Tiwary poked a wider one from his opposite number to gully, while wicketkeeper-batter Abishek Porel pulled Chetan Sakariya to deep square-leg in consecutive overs.
Unadkat kept it on the stumps to get rid of Akash Deep and Akash Ghatak.
The host’s last pair, Ishan Porel and Mukesh Kumar, fought on and used the long handle to garner 36 runs which helped Bengal erase the deficit and make Saurashtra bat again. Unadkat uprooted Porel’s off-stump to end the resistance.
Saurashtra lost Jay Gohil before reaching the target in 2.4 overs, with Harvik Desai hitting the winning runs.
Applauded by their families, the Saurashtra cricketers broke into celebrations even as the Bengal players looked on with drooping shoulders and teary eyes.
Unadkat, who returned to lead the side in the final, scalped six wickets in the innings and nine in the match to named the Player-of-the-Match.
Arpit Vasavada, the season’s second highest run-getter (907) and the stand-in captain in a few matches, was the Player-of-the-Tournament.
In a fine gesture, Unadkat asked Vasavada to lift the trophy along with him.
Bengal — 1st innings: 174.
Saurashtra — 1st innings: 404.
Bengal — 2nd innings: Sumanta Gupta c Mankad b Sakariya 1, Abhimanyu Easwaran c Harvik b Sakariya 16, Sudip Gharami c Mankad b Unadkat 14, Anustup Majumdar c Vishvaraj b Unadkat 61, Manoj Tiwary c Vishvaraj b Unadkat 68, Shahbaz Ahmed run out 27, Abishek Porel c Bhut b Sakariya 3, Akash Ghatak b Unadkat 4, Akash Deep lbw b Unadkat 1, Mukesh Kumar (not out) 15, Ishan Porel b Unadkat 22; Extras (b-4, lb-2, nb-2, w-1): 9; Total (in 70.4 overs): 241
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-22, 3-47, 4-146, 5-194, 6-198, 7-198, 8-200, 9-205.
Saurashtra bowling: Unadkat 22.4-1-85-6, Sakariya 21-2-76,3, Jani 5-0-12-0, Dharmendra 9-2-29-0, Mankad 9-1-21-0, Bhut 4-0-12-0.
Saurashtra — 2nd innings: Harvik Desai (not out) 4, Jay Gohil c Gharami b Akash Deep 0, Vishvaraj Jadeja (not out) 10; Total (for one wkt. in 2.4 overs): 14.
Fall of wicket: 1-0.
Bengal bowling: Mukesh 1.4-1-9-0, Akash Deep 1-0-5-1.