Wednesday turned out to be a captain’s day out at Motera as Jaydev Unadkat and Ruturaj Gaikwad led from the front in their respective semifinal to set up an all-western final in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Riding on Unadkat’s (four for 26) precision with his left-arm pace bowling, Saurashtra rolled over Karnataka with a facile five-wicket win with almost 14 hours to spare in the first semifinal at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
While Unadkat and Co. had left Karnataka batters perplexed in seam-friendly conditions in the main stadium, on a flat pitch at the adjoining B ground, Gaikwad (168, 126b, 18x4, 6x6) continued his run-feast in Ankeet Bawane’s (110, 89b, 10x4, 2x6) company to put on a gargantuan total. Despite Assam’s spirited success chase, Rajvardhan Hangargekar’s (four for 66) raw pace meant Assam fell short by 12 runs.
In the absence of Chetan Sakariya, who injured himself while taking a stunning catch in the deep in Monday’s quarterfinal, Unadkat had to lead from the front. In an opening spell that read 6-0-11-2, the seasoned pro set the tone for the day.
He accounted for his Karnataka counterpart Mayank Agarwal (fiddled outside off-stump to be caught by Sheldon Jackson at first slip) and B.R. Sharath (caught at third slip by Prerak Mankad at full stretch), promoted to up the ante.
Unadkat came back towards the end to account for all-rounder K. Gowtham for a duck and opener R. Samarth (88, 135b, 4x4, 1x6), the only Karnataka batter who occupied an end with his third successive fifty.
In between, Chirag Jani conceded just 19 runs off his quota and Mankad’s twin blows in an over meant Karnataka’s batting essay could never take off and folded for 171 in the last over.
The only time Karnataka looked to gain an upper hand came in the first two overs of the chase. Vidwath Kaverappa and V. Koushik dismissed Saurashtra openers Harvik Desai and Sheldon Jackson for a blob. From two wickets down for no runs, rookie Jay Gohil (61, 82b, 8x4, 1x6) rescued the Kathiawari kings with a stylish fifty.
Gohil’s knock, with the support of the middle order, took the sting out of Karnataka’s attack as Saurashtra overhauled the target in the 37th over.