Ranji Trophy Final, Day Five: Saurashtra claims maiden title

Saurashtra took the first-innings lead against Bengal on Day Five to win the Ranji Trophy.

Jaydev Unadkat looks at the sky after Saurashtra bowled Bengal out for 381. - VIJAY SONEJI

Welcome to Sportstar's live coverage of the fifth day of the Ranji Trophy final between Saurashtra and Bengal.

 

RESULT

In Rajkot: Saurashtra 425 and 105 for 4 drew with Bengal 381 (Chatterjee 81, Saha 64, Majumdar 63).

Saurashtra wins the Ranji Trophy.

 

Karsan Ghavri, Saurashtra's head coach, says his team played "rock solid cricket" this season, and it's duly got its reward for it. It was fourth-time lucky for Saurashtra; this was its fourth final since 2016, and it's got over the line this time.

But it wasn't a one-sided win; Bengal provided stern resistance and a first-innings lead was anybody's when the final day began. The wicket of Anustup Majumdar was a decisive moment; Bengal crumbled after that to hand a 44-run first-innings lead to Saurashtra.

The second session on the fourth day, when Bengal lost three wickets in quick time, took the contest away from Bengal, felt Abhimanyu Easwaran. The captain says he enjoyed this season the most, despite not being in form with the bat.

Jaydev Unadkat says the delivery to Anustup which dismissed him was the "ball of the season for me." "[The trophy] is coming home after 73 years, I couldn't be happer," he says.

So that's the end of the Ranji Trophy for this season. The Irani Trophy will be next, it'll be held on March 18. Join us, for that contest. Until then, it's goodbye.

 

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Sudip Chatterjee comes on to bowl, and one of his deliveries rises sharply from a length and takes the edge, but Abhimanyu Easwaran at silly mid-off cannot get to the ball on time. Next ball was a full toss, and Barot tried to smash it, but he mistimed the stroke; the ball is caught.

But the entire Saurashtra team had been huddled close the boundary rope, and that wicket signalled it was all over. Sheldon Jackson grabbed the stumps and began Saurashtra's celebrations.

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Sheldon Jackson rocks on to the back-foot and steers the ball to the gap at extra-cover. Shahbaz was the bowler. It's a boundary. The lead is now 136.

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Saurashtra three down. Arpit Vasavada comes forward to defend a good-length delivery from Shahbaz, but gets a glove to the ball, and the short-leg fielder takes a simple catch. The lead is 126.

The Ranji Trophy. - WRIDDHAAYAN BHATTACHARYYA

 

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Vishwarajsinh Jadeja is dismissed, he is caught behind down the leg side. It's a short delivery from Akash Deep, and Jadeja gets a slight tickle. Saurashtra two down in the second innings.

Saurashtra vs Bengal | The lead is past 100 now. The second-wicket partnership is worth 27.

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Three boundaries already, in the first 10 minutes of play after lunch. Vishwarajsinh Jadeja pulled two long hops from Shahbaz for two boundaries. Mukesh Kumar bowls a delivery slightly fuller than a good-length, outside the line of the off-stump, and is smashed to the boundary.

Jaydev Unadkat celebrates after getting Ishan Porel out lbw. - VIJAY SONEJI

 

Saurashtra vs Bengal | It's lunch, at the SCA stadium. Bengal has its first wicket; Shahbaz gets Harvik Desai out. The ball lifts off from a length and as it rises, it touches the arm of the batsman on its way to the short-leg fielder. The umpire gives it out, and after the DRS is taken, the third umpire notices the wrist-band on the arm moving as the ball touches it, and asks the on-field umpire to stay with his decision.

Saurashtra 38 for 1 in the second innings.

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Mukesh Kumar gets an lbw verdict against Avi Barot, but it's a big no-ball. An over later, he bowls short and wide and Barot slashes hard to get a boundary through point.

Saurashtra vs Bengal | It will perhaps be some time before the teams decide to call the contest off as a draw. No wicket yet for Bengal in the second innings.

 

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Another delivery short of a good length, and Desai plays a punch off the back-foot to get a boundary through extra-cover. He moves to 17.

Saurashtra vs Bengal | That final wicket was Unadkat's 67th for the season. Another two for the innings would have taken him past Bihar's Ashutosh Aman and given him the top spot among leading wicket-takers in a Ranji Trophy season.

Meanwhile, Saurashtra's openers have come out to bat. Harvik Desai gets off the mark off with a boundary off the first delivery of the innings; it's a short, wide delivery from Ishan Porel, and Desai cuts.

Saurashtra vs Bengal | And the first-innings lead is Saurashtra's. After bowling a few full deliveries to No. 11 Ishan Porel, Unadkat gets one to pitch on a good length and come back into the right hander with the angle. Porel is trapped lbw, and he takes the DRS, but it's of no avail. Bengal is bowled out for 381.

And the teams know that's the contest decided there. There's not much time left for two more innings. Celebrations in the Saurashtra camp. Bengal head coach Arun Lal walks down the stairs and shakes hands with the Saurashtra players.

Here's Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya: It's virtually over for Bengal. One can only feel for Nandi. Unbeaten on 40. Nandi has been a star player for Bhowanipore club in Kolkata. He works with the Metro Railways and lives in Chinsurah, a few kilometres away from the city.

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Arnab Nandi sees an opportunity and tees off, gets a boundary through midwicket off Unadkat. Later, off Jadeja, he tees off again, this time coming down the track, for another boundary.

Here's Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya: The journalists from Bengal in the press box are distraught. They can't believe it's happening. But it's still not over. Every boundary is being cheered by them to back the Bengal boy Arnab Nandi.

Bengal's Mukesh Kumar is caught out. - VIJAY SONEJI

 

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Dharmendrasinh Jadeja into the attack, and he strikes. Mukesh attempts a forward prod, the ball touches his pad and then his bat and then balloons up to the short leg fielder to take the catch. It's not given out, but DRS confirms it's out caught.

Saurashtra one wicket away.

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Mukesh is off the mark with a single; he flicks a delivery from Unadkat to fine leg. The deficit: 59.

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Nandi is content to leave deliveries alone, while Mukesh Kumar, the new batsman, is trying to defend deliveries from Unadkat. The two have had a chat in the middle; the plan may be to try to play deliveries on merit.

The batsmen have pulled down their shutters, but welcome runs for Bengal via byes. Unadkat pitches it short, and the ball likely hits a crack and goes way down the leg-side for a boundary.

Empty stands at the SCA stadium in Rajkot on Day Five. - WRIDDHAAYAN BHATTACHARYYA

 

Saurashtra vs Bengal | And now Akash Deep departs. He is run out; he failed to get his boot behind the line of the popping crease after having negotiated a delivery safely. Avi Barot, the wicketkeeper, throws the ball back to the stumps and misses; the ball is collected by Unadkat, the bowler, and is thrown back at the stumps again. Akash Deep thought he was well in; he wasn't. He goes for a duck, Bengal eight down.

A reminder: the final day is taking place without any spectator, due to the coronavirus threat. Find out how the spread of coronavirus has hit sport across the globe.

Here's Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya, our correspondent, who is at the venue: Uncanny feeling that there is no noise in a Ranji final because of the no spectator advisory from the health ministry. Yesterday, it was very loud but today, all we can hear is the sound of the ball hitting the bat.

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Saurashtra has the big wicket of Anustup Majumdar. Perhaps it's the final nail in the coffin for Bengal. Unadkat gets a delivery to pitch on a good length and come into the right hander. The ball hits him on the pads, and it looks adjacent. Anustup calls for the DRS but it can't save him.

He departs for 63 (151b, 8x4). It was a good innings from Anustup but Bengal would have needed him to stay on for longer.

Emoty stands at the SCA stadium in Rajkot on Day Five. - WRIDDHAAYAN BHATTACHARYYA

 

Saurashtra vs Bengal | Majumdar and Nandi are out in the middle, scanning the field. And Unadkat is giving his side a few motivational words ahead of the day's play. Chetan Sakariya to open the bowling spell on day five for Saurashtra.

The first innings could be very crucial for both sides. An early wicket is what Jaydev Unadkat's side will be hoping for.

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This is going to be a historic day, for either Bengal or Saurashtra. If Bengal wins the Ranji Trophy, it will be its first title in 30 years. And if Saurashtra wins, it will be the team's maiden title.

So far, after four absorbing days of cricket, in which only 16 wickets have fallen, Saurashtra retains the upper hand. But thanks to Anustup Majumdar and Arnab Nandi, the momentum is with Bengal, after a good partnership in the final session on Day Four. When their team lost three wickets in quick time in the second session, Saurashtra appeared in control, but Bengal didn't throw in the towel.

It needs 72 more runs to get to take the first-innings lead, and Saurashtra needs four wickets. With little time left in the contest, this is likely to be the decisive factor in determining the winner.

STUMPS, DAY FOUR

In Rajkot: Bengal 354 for 6 (Chatterjee 81, Saha 64, Majumdar 58 n.o.) trails Saurashtra 425 by 71 runs.

 

Playing XIs:

Saurashtra: Jaydev Unadkat (c), Cheteshwar Pujara, Sheldon Jackson, Arpit Vasavada, Chirag Jani, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Harvik Desai, Avi Barot (wk), Prerak Mankad, Vishwaraj Jadeja, Chetan Sakariya

Bengal: Abhimanyu Easwaran (c), Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Anustup Majumdar, Sudip Chatterjee, Arnab Nandi, Shahbaz Ahmed, Ishan Porel, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep, and Sudip Gharami.

 

The match will be streamed live on Hotstar.