A magniﬁcent tale of grind and toil came to a halt as Saurashtra, led by an inspiring Jaydev Unadkat, stopped Bengal on the ﬁfth and ﬁnal day to win its maiden title and bring the Ranji Trophy to its spiritual home on Friday.
At the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here, Bengal, starting from 354 for six and needing 72 runs to overhaul the host’s ﬁrst innings aggregate of 425 runs, could not hold out against Unadkat’s intensity and fell short by 44 runs.
Unadkat took two wickets for 12 runs in seven overs and eﬀected a run out as Bengal could only manage 27 runs in 14 overs to total 381.
The match ended in a draw, with the home side posting 105 for four in its second essay and Saurashtra took the title in its fourth ﬁnal appearance in last eight seasons on the basis of gaining the ﬁrst innings lead. The ﬁrst 83 minutes of the morning belonged to Unadkat.
The lanky left-arm seamer exhibited exemplary leadership to inspire his team to win the coveted trophy, named after Ranjitsinhji of Jamnagar. Unadkat dealt the ﬁrst blow when he trapped dangerman Anustup Majumdar (63) in front with a beauty in the sixth over of the day. Two
balls later, he ran Akash Deep out freakishly to swing the match in the host’s favour. Akash’s run out hampered Bengal’s progress and hurt its morale.
Wicketkeeper Avi Barot’s throw missed the stumps following Unadkat’s delivery. Noticing that Akash was still out of his crease marginally, the Saurashtra skipper picked up the ball and hit the stumps successfully. Television replays showing Akash’s lack of eﬀort in putting his bat or foot inside the line bafﬂed many. Even as Arnab Nandi (40 not out, 126b, 5x4, 1x6) fought a lone battle, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja claimed Mukesh Kumar’s wicket and Unadkat had Ishan Porel lbw to trigger wild celebrations in the home camp.