Saurashtra’s fighting qualities came to the fore every time Andhra looked like getting ahead and eventually, its never-say-die spirit stood rewarded.
The second semifinal of the Vijay Hazare Trophy gave ample opportunities to both teams before Saurashtra walked away as the worthy winner, the margin being 59 runs.
The result ended Andhra’s gallant run of seven straight victories and gave Saurashtra the right to challenge Karnataka in Tuesday’s final at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground.
Saurashtra won the big moments of the contest. First, 113-run stand between half-centurions Aarpith Vasavada and Ravindra Jadeja for the fifth-wicket helped the team to a challenging 255 in 49 overs.
Later, whenever Andhra appeared threatening, the Saurashtra bowlers struck. Though Andhra, too, lost four wickets before the total reached 100, there was no resurrecting partnership to worry Saurashtra. Andhra folded at 196, with left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja scalping four.
When Saurashtra batted after leaving out Robin Uthappa from the playing eleven, wickets fell virtually in sets of two throughout the innings. Andhra’s new-ball bowler D. Sivakumar struck twice in his first spell and kept Cheteshwar Pujara quiet for unusually long to bring Saurashtra under pressure.
ALSO READ: Mayank Agarwal makes history
Pujara, who took 15 deliveries to get started, faced 21 dot-balls off Sivakumar in his laboured, boundary-less 17. Having used up 53 deliveries, most of them in the power-play, Pujara played right into the hands of the opposition and brought worries to his teammates. He finally departed to a miscued pull that landed into the waiting hands of mid-on.
At this stage, Saurashtra was 69 for four in the 22nd over. What followed was the best part of the innings. Ravindra Jadeja, back in the playing eleven after nursing a side-strain, and Vasavada made up for the time lost by Pujara and took the battle to the opposition.
In the next 17.3 overs, Vasavada and Ravindra Jadeja put on 113 runs. In the process, both reached their half centuries. Vasavada matched his more famous partner stroke for stroke. He contributed 58 (59b, 4x4, 2x6). Jadeja, as is his wont, kept the scorers busy during his 51-ball 56, with a six and four boundaries.
However, off two successive deliveries, the duo departed and rekindled Andhra’s hopes of keeping the target low. Vasavada guided a rising delivery into the hands of backward point. Off the next ball, of the new over, Ravindra Jadeja was run-out in his attempt to steal a second run.
Thereafter, Prerak Mankad smashed a 28-ball 40, with six boundaries, in the company of tailenders and gave Saurashtra what turned out to be a winning total.
Saurashtra: Samarth Vyas b Raman 46, Avi Barot c Ayyappa b Sivakumar 1, Chirag Jani c Bharat b Sivakumar 1, Cheteshwar Pujara c Bhui b Raman 17, Ravindra Jadeja (run out) 56, Aarpit Vasavada c Sumath b Raman 58, Prerak Mankad c Bhui b Raman 40, Kamlesh Makvana b Ayyappa 19, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja b Ayyappa 0, Shaurya Sanandia c Bharat b Sasikanth 3, Hardik Rathod (not out) 5, Extras (lb-3, w-3) 9, Total (in 49.1 overs) 255.
Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-17, 3-66, 4-69, 5-182, 6-183, 7-228, 8-228, 9-244.
Andhra bowling: D. Siva Kumar 10-3-19-2, B. Ayyappa 10-0-56-2, K. V. Sasikanth 10-0-47-1, Bhargav Bhatt 6-0-35-0, Karthik Raman 9.1-0-69-4, Hanuma Vihari 4-0-27-0.
Andhra: Srikar Bharat c (sub) Himalaya Barad b Jani 29, Ashwin Hebbar c Chirag Jani b Sanandia 12, Hanuma Vihari c Barot b Mankad 25, Ricky Bhui (run out) 13, B. Sumanth c (sub) Barad Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 42, D. Ravi Teja b Sanandia 42, K. V. Sasikanth lbw b Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 0, D. Siva Kumar c Barot b Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 10, Karthik Raman c Pujara b Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 0, B. Ayyappa c Dharmendrasinh Jadeja b Makwana 13, Bhargav Bhatt (not out) 5, Extras (lb-2, w-3) 5, Total (in 45.3 overs) 196.
Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-65, 3-71, 4-91, 5-150, 6-150, 7-174, 8-174, 9-190.
Saurashtra bowling: Shaurya Sanandia 8-1-40-2, Hardik Rathod 5-0-20-0, Chirag Jani 10-0-44-1, Prerak Mankad 8-0-35-1, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 10-0-40-4, Kamlesh Makwana 4.3-0-15-1.
Result: Saurashtra won by 59 runs.