Sarwate: ‘I have seen Pujara a lot in the Australia series’

Cheteshwar Pujara, India’s man of the series in the Test series win Down Under, fell to Vidarbha slow left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate in the Ranji Trophy final on Monday.

Aditya Sarwate celebrates along with his Vidarbha teammates after getting the prized wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara.   -  Vivek Bendre

Aditya Sarwate is a fast learner, a sharp plotter and a spinner who does his homework. The slow left-arm orthodox bowler — the fastest from Vidarbha to 100 first-class wickets in 12 matches and 21 innings — claimed the “first big wicket” of his career at the VCA stadium on Monday.

The 29-year-old coloured his stat books with the wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara to declare the Ranji Trophy final against Saurashtra open.

He hadn’t had a chance to roll over an arm in the semifinal against Kerala, and the group stage encounter against Saurashtra didn’t have Pujara in the line-up.

READ: Ranji Trophy Final: Snell Patel's 87 keeps Saurashtra in the hunt

Sarwate had followed Pujara closely in India’s tour of Australia, which helped him set up the international batsman tactfully on day two.

Pujara came to bat right before tea, and Sarwate was wise enough to keep three fielders around him to build pressure.

“I have seen him a lot in the Australia series [on television]. He is a little tentative initially. He jabs the ball. That’s the reason a short-leg was kept. If the odd ball spun, there was a silly point.

“Fielders keep planning watching on television. If you put fielders in his weak areas, that can curtail his shots,” he said.

Sarwate’s Pujara study had also told him to restrict the batsman to his crease. “Our plan was to attack as much as we could. We didn’t want him to step out.”

Vidarbha coach Chandrakant Pandit had planned to introduce Sarwate in the third over, only to take him off, and change ends later.

READ: Ranji Trophy Final: Pujara lasts 16 minutes, 11 balls to score 1

“If the end changes, the bowler also changes in the batsman’s mind. The idea was to have me for two overs and then again, back to pacers Umesh Yadav and Rajneesh Gurbani. It was done deliberately,” he revealed.

The spin bowler reckons it is not a rank turner, and batsmen like Snell Patel — who can play with a “simple approach” and soft hands — will succeed on the Jamtha wicket.

‘Easier to play Yadav’

Wicketkeeper-batsman Patel struck his sixth fifty of the season. He credits the pitch that suited his style of play.

“As I play late on the backfoot, this kind of a pitch suits me. I can take time and play. As the wicket is slow, it was easier to play Umesh Yadav [as well],” he said.

There is a bit of rough on the wicket which is helping the spinners. On day three, Patel is keen to play session-by-session.

“It is looking difficult but it is actually not. If you are settled, it gets easy. The team is still in the game. Like they had a partnership this morning, we may have one tomorrow.”