Euro 2020 Special

Ranji Trophy: Saurashtra Defeat Bengal To Clinch Second Title 

Jaydev Unakdat’s Saurashtra defeated Bengal by nine wickets on Sunday to clinch their second Ranji Trophy title, making the Gujarat-based team the unquestionable dominant force in India’s first-class cricket. The Manoj Tiward-led Bengal side were on the back foot since the starting session of the game, with Saurashtra’s captain Jaydev Unakdat leading his side from the front with magical spells that saw the total collapse of Bengal’s batting order in Eden Gardens. This is Saurashtra’s second win in three years, and by winning the Vijay Hazare Trophy earlier this season, they now hold two of the three premier domestic titles.

Bengal’s wait for a third Ranji Trophy title continues, with the hosts failing to take revenge on Saurashtra for their defeat in the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy final. Here’s a look at the recently concluded Ranji Trophy final:


Match Report

The hosts collapsed for a pitiful 174 runs in their first innings, with lower-order batsman Shahbaz Ahmed and Abishek Porel putting together a century partnership to rescue their innings. Jaydev Unakdat and             Chetan Sakariya took three wickets each, while Chirag Jani and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja pitched in with two wickets each. In contrast, Saurashtra’s batsmen adjusted to the conditions of the pitch quite comfortably, with opener Harvik Desai leading the way with a half-century.

Sheldon Jackson, Arpit Vasavada and Chirag Jani all scored half-centuries to take Saurashtra to 404 runs at the end of the first innings, giving the visitors a solid 230-run lead. Bengal lost openers Sumanta Gupta and Abhimanyu Easwaran early in the second innings, with Chetan Sakariya taking out both batsmen in his first spell. Anustup Majumdar and skipper Manoj Tiwary steadied the innings for Bengal by the end of Day 3, with Shahbaz Ahmed joining the skipper to remain unbeaten overnight.

But any hopes of bridging the deficit on Day 4 evaporated when Shahbaz Ahmed’s wicket fell thanks to a horrible mix-up early in the day. Bengal lost three more wickets in the next six overs of the session, completely destroying their hope of fighting back into the game. Mukesh Kumar and Ishan Porel blocked Saurashtra’s early victory by stitching together a 36-run partnership for the last wicket, forcing the visitors to play their second innings.

Jay Gohli’s wicket was the only consolation for Bengal during the day, with Saurashtra needing just twelve runs to win the game. Hardik Desai and Vishwaraj Jadeja finished the chase with three boundaries, giving Saurashtra their second-ever Ranji Trophy title. Jaydev Unakdat was awarded the Player of the Match award, while Arpit Vasavada claimed the Player of the Series award.


Saurashtra’s Dominance

Saurashtra began their season by clinching the Vijay Hazare Trophy, India’s domestic One-Day title. This is also the second Ranji Trophy win for the Gujarat-based team, having won their first-ever trophy in 2019-20 under the leadership of Jaydev Unakdat. The team’s dominance in first-class setup over the past three years has been mainly led by their captain Jaydev Unakdat, who has made Saurashtra his main focus in the absence of breakthroughs in the Indian team.

Jaydev Unakdat was initially not a part of Saurashtra’s squad for the semi-finals and the finals, as the fast bowler was called into the Indian squad for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. He missed the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy, watching from the sidelines as Saurashtra faced a big challenge from Karnataka. But once it was clear that his chances of making it to the playing XI for the Indian side were low, Jaydev Unakdat put in a request to be released from the team so that he could be a part of the final. He valiantly led the team from the front, picking up six wickets during the game.

Chetan Sakariya is another reason for Saurashtra’s success over the past three years. The 24-year-old has played a key role in Saurashtra’s 2019-20 campaign, once again coming through with his all-rounder abilities in the semi-finals. Saurashtra’s middle-order matured into a stable unit, with veteran Arpit Vasavada leading the way.

Since 2018, the core of Saurashtra’s team in the Ranji Trophy has remained more or less similar, giving the players plenty of opportunities to find their form. Just two players have made their debut over the past three years for the team, reducing the churn among players and giving them adequate time to build relationships with each other. The lack of any big-name players apart from Jaydev Unakdat also helped players in being more open to each other, allowing them to focus on the game instead of worrying about their careers. Team ethos and camaraderie have ultimately helped Saurashtra conquer India’s domestic setup.




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