Ranji Trophy: Aditya Sarwate, Vidarbha's 'final' man

Aditya Sarwate was the man who made the difference for Vidarbha with the ball and with the bat, to help Faiz Fazal and co. successfully defend the title.

Aditya Sarwate exults after dismissing Kamlesh Makvana on the fifth morning of the Ranji Trophy final.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, that's how Vidarbha would like to describe Aditya Sarwate. The left-arm spinner, who scalped 11 wickets and chipped in with 49 runs in the final of the Ranji Trophy guided his team to its second consecutive title, and stamped his class by dismissing Saurashtra's Cheteshwar Pujara in both the innings.

While his feat proved vital for Vidarbha, it wasn't the first time he performed in a final. Last season as Vidarbha stood closer to its first-ever title victory, Sarwate played a gritty knock of 79 in the final against Delhi in Indore and followed it up with a three-wicket haul in the second innings.

At the Holkar Stadium in Indore, Sarwate partnered with his old friend Akshay Wadkar--who scored a century in that game--and guided the team to post a challenging total. Playing together at the local Nav Niketan Club, Sarwate shared a rapport with Wadkar and that helped the two stitch a long partnership.

If he shone with the bat, 'spinner' Sarwate struck at the right time to send Delhi's in-form batsman, Dhruv Shorey, to the pavilion and that certainly was the turning point in the game.

"Having someone like Sarwate is definitely a boost for the team. He can not only give us breakthroughs, but also scores regularly. Such a player is required for any team," Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal said, praising the youngster.

If last year was mostly about playing a peripheral role, this season Sarwate has been the spin spearhead for the champion side. In every game, he has made all the opportunities count.

"The good thing about Sarwate is that he is a very matured player, who knows how to get used to the match situation. That makes him a vital player in the ranks. He is always willing to learn," former India cricketer and Vidarbha's former bowling coach, Subroto Banerjee, said.

It hasn't been a bed of roses for the 29-year-old, who had to overcome personal battle to stick around the cricketing arena. Two decades ago, his father met with an accident and was paralysed. While the family was run by his mother Anushree, Sarwate would help bathe his father, feed him, take care of his needs. That's something he still does, and along with cricket he completed his graduation and even topped the management course.

Life has taught him a lot, but there was another person who helped Sarwate improve on his spin, and that's former India tweaker, Narendra Hirwani. In 2015, when Hirwani met Sarwate, the latter was being considered majorly as a batsman but after seeing his control over the ball, Hirwani shaped him to turn into a spin-bowling all-rounder. "All he required was self-belief and that's exactly what I did. I gave him the confidence and now you can see the result," Hirwani said.

Even a few years ago, Sarwate was in two minds whether to focus on cricket or shift to corporate job. But his mom and peers advised him to wait for his turn.

And now as Vidarbha adds another trophy in its kitty, it's key man, Sarwate, shines bright and hopes 'Aapna time ayega!'