A lanky pacer from Porbandar, birthplace of the Mahatma, put the brakes on a memorable march of a Patel and a Gandhi to help Saurashtra emerge on the winning side of the Gujarat Derby and book a place in the Ranji Trophy final for the second season in succession.
Jaydev Unadkat’s (7/56) twin strikes rattled Gujarat early on, leaving the visiting side tottering at 19 for three, after starting the last day’s play at 7/1 in quest of 327. Captain Parthiv Patel (93, 148b, 13x4) was in trouble of running out of partners even before lunch when at 63 for five Chirag Gandhi (96, 139b, 16x4) joined him.
The duo’s 158-run partnership was threatening the home side and its vocal supporters, when Unadkat came back with a dream spell to script a memorable 92-run win at the SCA stadium. The victory margin, though, doesn’t really reflect proceedings on a tense Tuesday.
While Saurashtra couldn’t have asked for a better start than the four scalps in the morning, it knew the game was alive until veteran Parthiv was at the crease. Gujarat, on the other hand, hoped for its captain to stage an encore of the 2016-17 final when Parthiv’s 143 anchored a similar chase of 313 against Mumbai at Indore.
With the ball softening, conditions turning batting-friendly and Unadkat taking a break, Parthiv and Gandhi started milking the medium-pacers. By tea time, Gujarat had raced to 205 for five, having added 101 in 26 overs after lunch.
With 122 required off 36 overs and the new ball due in 16 overs, it was time to start the countdown for Gujarat. But Unadkat, having bowled 1,500-plus deliveries this season before the start of play, came back for a lethal spell (4.2-2-22-4) to finish the game off in less than an hour.
He took the ball right on resumption and went for 13 runs, with Gandhi and Parthiv entering the 90s, in his first over. In the next, he got rid of the two Patels — Parthiv (nicked to first slip with one that moved away) and Axar (low return catch) — to all but seal the game. With Dharmendrasinh Jadeja getting rid of Roosh Kalaria in the next over, Unadkat came back to coerce Gandhi into chopping one back on to his stumps.
It was fitting that Unadkat’s seventh victim — last-man Arzan Nagwaswalla caught by Harvik Desai in the slips — signalled the end of the match, paving way for the pumped-up left-arm pacer’s wild burst of celebration.
The scores: Saurashtra — 1st innings: 304.
Gujarat — 1st innings: 252.
Saurashtra - 2nd innings: 274.
Gujarat — 2nd innings: Samit Gohel c Desai b Unadkat 5, Priyank Panchal c Dharmendrasinh 0, Bhargav Merai lbw b Mankad 14, Dhruv Raval c & b Unadkat 5, Parthiv Patel c Desai b Unadkat 93, Rujul Bhatt c Jackson b Jani 1, Chirag Gandhi b Unadkat 96, Axar Patel c & b Unadkat 0, Roosh Kalaria c Barot b Dharmendrasinh 1, Chintan Gaja (not out) 4, Arzan Nagwaswalla c Desai b Unadkat 4; Extras (b-1, lb-7, nb-1, w-2): 11; Total (in 72.2 overs): 234.
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-7, 3-18, 4-60, 5-63, 6-221, 7-221, 8-226, 9-226.
Saurashtra bowling: Unadkat 22.2-11-56-7, Sakariya 14-3-51-0, Dharmendrasinh 17-3-47-1, Jani 7-0-33-1, Mankad 12-2-39-1.