Saurashtra captain Jaydev Unadkat. @ BCCI

It’s a bitter pill to swallow for Saurashtra, who have now gone down in their third consecutive Ranji Trophy 2018-19 final after defending champions Vidarbha won the summit clash by 78 runs at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur on Thursday. However, captain Jaydev Unadkat wishes to look at the brighter side. (ALSO READ: Vidarbha claim second successive title beating Saurashtra by 78 runs)

“I think any loss would be disappointing, but I don’t think it’s more painful than the last two [finals],” Unadkat was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.

“The brand of cricket we played and developed this year has been special. The difference between what we lost when we lost the last couple of finals and this final was obviously the fight we put up. This special bunch of players that have really done so well and have the capability of winning the title. So, I would say it’s not really painful this time around. I am really happy and proud with the way the guys put up this fight throughout this season, not just this match.”

Unadkat heaped praise on Vidarbha spinner Aditya Sarwate, who picked 11 for 157 to wrap up the season as the third-highest wicket-taker, with 55 wickets in 11 matches at an average of 19.67. “It’s all down to a couple of mistakes together, that said, their spinners bowled better than ours,” Unadkat said.

“Even to Cheteshwar Pujara, the way he bowled, credit has to go to Aditya. The way he kept bowling at him, if Pujara would’ve settled on that wicket, he could have defined the game. To get him out early in both innings is creditable, that’s why they came out on top of us.” (ALSO READ: ‘If Karnataka had sporting spirit, why would they falsely appeal?’)

Sarwate picked Pujara twice in three days to send the veteran Test batsman with scores of 0 and 1. “I always believe in a fourth-innings chase, a couple of guys have to step up, either the openers or the guys batting at No. 3 or 4 to really chase it down. Because pressure takes toll on anyone, be it any player,” he said.

“In a game like this, the pressure would be high on players. I still feel they put up a fight; we fought till the end, till the last wicket was lost. It’s just about one bad innings, one collapse. That was the difference between both sides.”

Meanwhile, Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak reckons the turning point of the match was Vidarbha’s contribution from its lower order. “To get to 312 on such a wicket where batting first was an advantage was a big thing,” Kotak said. (ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Fitness, dogged attitude and the Che plan: Faiz Fazal reveals story of Vidarbha’s Ranji Trophy triumph)

“If we could have restricted them to 250, it could have made a difference. [After] losing the toss on that kind of wicket we knew that it would become a difficult pitch to bat on in both second and fourth innings, so it was important to restrict them. At 139 for 6 we had the opportunity. If we had restricted them to 50-60 runs less, then we would have also got to bat earlier than when we batted on a pitch which was deteriorating gradually from day two.”

Asked whether the team were soft in their strategy, Unadkat said: “I don’t think so, the way we have played, if you’ve seen us play in the quarters or semis, the intensity we showed, it didn’t come across as soft at all.”

“We play to win, we will play to win, this is the spirit. Desperation arises from the fact that when you lose, you start the blame game, and want to take credit when the team wins. That isn’t the case with our team. Even when we lose, we learn from our mistakes, when we win, it’s not about me or Cheteshwar. We weren’t desperate. Yes, we were eager.”