Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Jaydev Unadkat’s fiery spell steers Saurashtra into final

Unadkat’s spirited spell after tea ends Gujarat’s resistance; half-centuries from Parthiv Patel, Chirag Gandhi go in vain.

Jaydev Unadkat took seven wickets in the innings and 10 in the match, including four after tea on Day Five.   -  Vijay Soneji

Every time Saurashtra would pick up a wicket or pull ahead of Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy semifinal fixture here, some of the local fans and members of the media would walk up to the officials and joke: “Ab toh mithai khila do…(give us sweets to eat).” The officials would smile and politely reply: “Let it get over first.” They did not want to rush things and celebrate even before the team could seal a berth to the final.

But on Wednesday, as Jaydev Unadkat’s seven-wicket haul — 10 overall — helped Saurashtra thrash Gujarat by 92 runs and reach its second consecutive Ranji Trophy final, and the third in five years, it was finally time for some drumbeats and celebration. Saurashtra will play Bengal at home in the final on March 9.

Chasing 327, Gujarat had a mountain to climb on the final day, and a jittery start saw the side reeling at 63 for 5 at one stage. However, Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel (93, 148b, 13x4) and Chirag Gandhi (96, 139b, 16x4) scripted a remarkable recovery. Coming in at a time when holding fort was need of the hour, Gandhi comforted Parthiv at one end and laid anchor, stitching a 158-run stand for the sixth wicket.

SAU vs GUJ | AS IT HAPPENED

The partnership deflated Saurashtra. With the two appearing assured and confident, the Saurashtra bowlers looked listless and with 121 required at tea, it was Gujarat’s game to lose. But a turnaround was in store.

Going for the kill

Soon after tea, Unadkat, who looked jaded after a gruelling second season, struck, removing Parthiv; he was caught in the slips. As the Gujarat captain walked back to the pavilion dejected, the plan in the Saurashtra camp was clear — to go for the kill. In the very next delivery, a return catch from Unadkat saw Axar Patel back in the pavilion. Soon after, Gandhi also departed; he was cleaned up by Unadkat for 96. The last five wickets fell for 13 runs — Unadkat took four of those wickets — as Gujarat folded for 234.

Arpit Vasavada (centre) was the player of the match for his century in the second innings. - VIJAY SONEJI

 

Unadkat’s seven-wicket haul (7 for 56) took his wickets tally to 65. It’s the highest tally this season; it’s also the highest for a fast bowler in a Ranji Trophy season.

The Gujarat camp, on the other hand, would be disappointed with the way it lost the plot. It suffered a top-order capitulation early, and even as local fans, who had gathered in large numbers, cheered for the home team, Parthiv and Gandhi focussed on the job in hand. In the longer format of the game, where every session holds the key, Unadkat deserves credit for keeping his cool and bringing his side back into the game.

That actually changed the course of the game.

As Saurashtra sealed the deal, sweets were distributed, there were loud cheers and of course, promises of breaking the final jinx, this time around.

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