Ranji Trophy: Saurashtra and its mental ‘zone’ via Pujara

The Jaydev Unadkat-led young side is riding on belief than pressure as it prepares to meet the defending champion Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy 2018-19 final starting February 3.

Saurashtra captain Jaydev Unadkat takes a selfie with his team-mates in Bengaluru on Monday.   -  Sudhakara Jain

Saurashtra has made the final cut twice in the last six seasons of the Ranji Trophy. But this side thrives on youth power and the Cheteshwar Pujara element. There are six to seven newcomers in the current crop, and many of them have proven their worth.

“The atmosphere is different. We are eager to win it [Ranji Trophy] but we are not afraid of losing it. That’s the one change I can see from that final and this one,” skipper Jaydev Unadkat, the other India international in the side, points out.

READ: Ton-up Pujara takes Saurashtra to final

Pujara is better known as ‘Chintu bhaiyya’ in the Saurashtra ranks. Unadkat highlights the benefits of the camaraderie.

“I can’t have anyone better than him [Pujara] for having an influence [on the young players]. He just wants to be out there and win it for the side. The level doesn’t matter. He is helping me on the field, and also the batsmen.

“Pujara was guiding the batters in the quarterfinal chase [372 runs] against UP. That confidence reflected in this game and nobody was out of the belief that we can’t win it. I think it is because of him and the character he has, the image he has,” Unadkat adds.

READ: Jaydev Unadkat bats for DRS post Pujara drama

The left-arm pacer is aware of the work that needs to be done at the ground level to keep manufacturing champions in Saurashtra. “We have to work better to develop the cricket further from the U-16 and U-19 side and not just the senior team. We don’t have much cricket happening except Ranji Trophy. Before this tournament, most of our guys did not get to play day-games. It [eventually] comes down to the talent and determination of the players from the region. They have never shown that they were lacking in practice.”

READ: 'I try to ensure players don’t take any pressure'

Speaking of the final opponent, Vidarbha, Unadkat says, “We have beaten Vidarbha in this season on first innings lead. That will play in their mind and we will like to capitalise on that. When you win games like these, the confidence is sky-high.”

“I think we are in a zone where the energy comes from within. We don’t really need anyone to motivate us. You can’t do things without having a belief which is so much stronger than the pressure of winning a game.”

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