Cricket

Ranji Trophy | Vidarbha and Saurashtra vie for the top prize

Batathon men: Cheteshwar Pujara of Saurashtra and Vidarbha’s Wasim Jaffer could well be involved in a battle of their own.

Batathon men: Cheteshwar Pujara of Saurashtra and Vidarbha’s Wasim Jaffer could well be involved in a battle of their own.  

The former will look to extend its lease on the title, while the latter eyes maiden success

The practice area of the VCA Stadium at Jamtha saw interesting interactions between the rival camps on the eve of what could be perceived as a low-profile Ranji Trophy final.

Cheteshwar Pujara, the run-machine that has led Saurashtra’s charge in the knockouts after wearing the Australian bowlers down in another continent, walked up to Wasim Jaffer, his Indian Oil senior who has surpassed 1000 runs in the season, after finishing his stint in the nets.

A little while later, Saurashtra captain Jaydev Unadkat and his Vidarbha new-ball counterpart Umesh Yadav were involved in a hearty exchange.

Contrasting styles

While the four pillars, on whom the fate of the Ranji final will hinge on, were trying to relax themselves and their teammates ahead of the big final, the two men in charge of the teams continued their contrasting styles.

Ranji Trophy | Vidarbha and Saurashtra vie for the top prize

Chandrakant Pandit, who will be a part of the fourth consecutive Ranji final — and sixth in his glittering innings as coach — was a typically hard task-master hardly breaking into a smile. Shitanshu Kotak, the Saurashtra coach, lived up to his billing as a smiling assassin by constantly trying to keep his wards calm.

It will be the ability of these six men — to lead from the front and manoeuvre others in their groups — that could be the difference between Vidarbha doubling its Ranji title count and Saurashtra overcoming the horrors of its last two Ranji finals.

Sterling role

Pujara, ever since he has joined the team for the quarterfinals, has played a sterling role in Saurashtra overhauling two mammoth fourth-innings chases against formidable opponents in the last two rounds.

If he can counter the hostility of Umesh — who is on a roll since returning from Australia with 21 wickets in the two knock-outs games — Saurashtra can surely hope to walk away with the coveted trophy for the first time.

Similarly, Unadkat has not only led the troupes well but has been consistent with his left-arm pacers, scalping seven wickets apiece in Saurashtra’s victories versus Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.

It will be the other mini-battle between him and stalwart Jaffer that will play a pivotal role in the outcome on what appears to be a typical five-day Jamtha pitch.

With the focus on the leading stars, Saurashtra will bank on the seasoned Sheldon Jackson and left-arm spinner Dharmdendrasinh Jadeja to keep up their consistency. Similarly, Vidarbha will look to captain Faiz Fazal to make an impact, along with wicketkeeper-batsman Akshay Wadkar and all-rounder Aditya Sarvate.

If the big guns are on fire, the next five days will witness a clash of the equals.

The teams (from):

Vidarbha: Faiz Fazal (Capt.), R. Sanjay, Atharva Taide, Wasim Jaffer, Ganesh Satish, Mohit Kale, Akshay Wadkar (wk), Siddhesh Wath, Aditya Sarvate, Akshay Karnewar, Akshay Wakhare, Umesh Yadav, Rajneesh Gurbani, Yash Thakur and Suniket Bingewar.

Saurashtra: Jaydev Unadkat (Capt.), Snell Patel, Harvik Desai, Vishwaraj Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sheldon Jackson, Arpit Vasavada, Prerak Mankad, Chirag Jani, Avi Barot, Kishan Parmar, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Hardik Rathod, Vandit Jivrajani, Kamlesh Makwana and Chetan Sakariya.

On-field umpires: Anil Chaudhary and Shamshuddin; Third umpire: Nitin Menon; Match referee: Col. Chinmay Sharma.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 12:48:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/ranji-trophy-vidarbha-and-saurashtra-vie-for-the-top-prize/article26163606.ece

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