Ranji Trophy: Akshay Wadkar saves faltering Vidarbha the blushes

Wicketkeeper-batsman Akshay Wadkar top-scores with 45 as Saurashtra restricts Vidarbha to 200 for 7 on Day One.

Rearguard effort: Akshay Wadkar en route to his 45 in Nagpur on Sunday.   -  Vivek Bendre

A combination of tight bowling and planning allowed Saurashtra to sit on top of Vidarbha, the defending champion, on Day One of the Ranji Trophy 2018-19 final at the VCA ground here.

Riding on crucial contributions from Akshay Wadkar (45, 115b, 5x4) and Akshay Karnewar (31n.o., 71b, 4x3, 1x6), the host finished at 200 for 7.

As it happened

Wickets at regular intervals had paused Vidarbha’s progress before Wadkar and Karnewar stitched a 57-run stand for the seventh wicket, in the third session. When the first 50-run partnership of the day comes in the 85th over, you know the bowlers have been on the prowl. The duo blocked the tricky deliveries and found boundaries that didn’t come easy in the first hour.

Wadkar’s first four off Kamlesh Makvana, the off-spinner, indicated his comfort on the Jamtha wicket; it was a bent-down sweep. The right-hander’s 98 in his last outing here was overshadowed by Wasim Jaffer’s 206. Wadkar cut loose and played his shots comfortably against both pace and spin. The forward push-drive off seamer Prerak Mankad was perhaps the best shot in his 151-minute stay on the crease.

Top-order collapse

Big blow: Faiz Fazal was run out for 16. Photo: Vivek Bendre

 

His intervention resuscitated a faltering innings. Vidarbha had lost both its openers — skipper Faiz Fazal (16, 35b, 4x2) and Sanjay Ramaswamy (2, 18b) — before 11 overs were bowled. Further trouble awaited the side; while batting with Jaffer, Fazal completed a run and slowed down while coming back for a second. Chetan Sakariya’s flat throw helped Snell Patel dislodge the bails before Fazal could ground his bat in.

Read | Jaffer slips in happy hunting ground

Before long, Ramaswamy landed an easy catch to Arpit Vasavada at slip off left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat.

Jaffer’s was the big wicket. After having scored 23 off 67 balls (4x1, 6x1), he stuck his bat out to a back-of-a-length delivery from Unadkat; it took the edge through to the wicketkeeper, ending his 104-minute stay. At that stage, Vidarbha had played out 30 overs but had only 60 runs on the board.

Rescue act

Jaydev Unadkat (second from left) was the most successful bowler for Saurashtra, with two wickets. Photo: Vivek Bendre

 

Ganesh Satish (32, 86b, 4x1, 6x1) and Mohit Kale (35, 126b, 4x4) started a rescue act, compiling 46 runs for the fourth wicket. They scored 15 runs in the 44th over off left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, which injected a bit of life in the otherwise dull second session.

Makvana dismissed Kale in the 50th over, Harvik Desai catching a sitter off Makwana. Desai had made amends for his dropped chance off Jadeja at first slip.

All five Saurashtra bowlers had a wicket to their name. Unadkat stood out with 2 for 26.

Brief scores
  • Vidarbha 200 for 7 (A. Wadkar 45, M. Kale 35; J. Unadkat 2 for 26, C. Sakariya 1 for 13) vs Saurashtra.