Ranji Trophy: Unadkat’s Record-Breaking Spell Powers Saurashtra Into Second Successive Final
Jaydev Unadkat picked up 10 wickets to fire Saurashtra into the final of Ranji Trophy 2019-20©IANS

Captain Jaydev Unadkat led from the front and broke a plethora of records to power Saurashtra into their second consecutive Ranji Trophy final at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot on Wednesday. In an exciting final day’s play, Unadkat bowled a memorable spell of fast bowling to complete his seven-wicket haul in the second innings and single-handedly ended Gujarat’s resistance. His figures helped Saurashtra register a 92-run victory in the final session.

The match was hanging in balance till the start of the final session. Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel (93) and Chirag Gandhi (96) led an impressive comeback for the visitors with a 158-run stand for the sixth wicket. Chasing 327 to book a place in the final, Gujarat resumed day 5 at seven for one. They were down and out at 63/5 before Parthiv and Chirag reignited their hopes of an improbable win.

However, Unadkat removed both the set batsmen to fashion a memorable win for his team. Saurashtra will host Bengal in the final from March 9. Saurashtra had lost last year’s title clash to Vidarbha.

The 28-year-old Unadkat finished with a 10-wicket haul in the semifinal against Gujarat. During the innings, Unadkat broke a 21-year-old record for the most wickets by a fast bowler in a single Ranji Trophy season. He finished with a tally of 65 wickets after the completing of semifinal versus Gujarat.

Earlier, resuming on seven for one, the visitors lost their second wicket on the same score. Unadkat struck early as he removed Samit Gohil (5), who was caught at second slip. He picked up his third scalp when took a return catch to send back Dhruv Raval (1). Gujarat were in trouble at 18 for three.

When it looked like Bhargav Merai (14) and skipper Parthiv were steadying Gujarat’s ship, Prerak Mankad broke through by trapping Merai in front of the wicket. Mankad bowled in the good length area and as it shaped back into the right-hander, Merai shuffled across and failed to connect.

Merai went for a review, but the decision did not come in his favour, as Gujarat slipped to 60 for four. Soon, it became 63 for five after Rujul Bhatt (1) also fell cheaply.

Parthiv held one end up and then found an allay in Chirag as the visitors took lunch at 105/5. Patel and Gandhi looked solid in the second session while also hitting a flurry of boundaries to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Their heroics helped Gujarat to take tea at 206/5, still needing 121 runs in the final session. Just when it looked the match was turning in favour of Gujarat, Unadkat turned the tables for the hosts by dismissing Parthiv and Axar Patel (0) in the same over.

A dejected Parthiv walked back to the pavilion after he edged one to Harvik Desai and then, the Saurashtra skipper lobbed off a return catch to dismiss Axar.

With the two wickets, Unadkat also completed his 20th five-for. Saurashtra then wrapped up the tail, and fittingly, Unadkat took the last wicket.

Brief scores: Saurashtra: 304 and 274 beat Gujarat 252 and 234 overs (Chirag Gandhi 96, Parthiv Patel 93; Jaydev Unadkat 7/56) by 92 runs.