Ever since it lost its first two games of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy league stage in October, murmurs of how this group didn’t have it in it to deliver had started growing louder in Maharashtra cricket.
On Wednesday, with Maharashtra having entered its maiden Vijay Hazare Trophy final, Maharashtra captain Ruturaj Gaikwad did not hold himself back against the critics back home.
“All I want to tell everyone is never underestimate us,” Gaikwad told Sportstar.
“Almost everyone except this bunch of 20 over here wanted us to fail. But we believed in ourselves and stretched our limits. With the guidance of Jedhe sir (Santosh Jedhe, the head coach) and Sam bhai (Samad Fallah, the bowling coach), we have shown our true calibre. We are confident that we can do it one more time in the final.”
On the back of eight consecutive wins, Maharashtra is the only unbeaten team in the tournament. While Saurashtra coach Niraj Odedra applauded its consistency and admitted “it will be a tough challenge”, captain Jaydev Unadkat relied on the advantage ahead of playing at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
“It will be of help for sure because they have been playing on wickets with a lot of runs. That hasn’t been the case over here. So that factor will definitely assist us, having known the conditions,”Unadkat said.
While Maharashra played its quarterfinal and semifinal on the flat pitches at the NMS ‘B’ ground, Saurashtra defeated Karnataka at the main stadium on Wednesday.
Unadkat, who in 2019-20 helped Saurashtra win its maiden Ranji title, is confident that his troupe can regain the Vijay Hazare Trophy after 15 years.
“It’s a great chance. The manner in which we have been playing, we deserve to win the trophy. The final will be the game of winning those crucial moments. Having beaten domestic powerhouses Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in the quarters and the semis, I am already proud of the way we have performed,” he said.
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