..Saurashtra walked away with their maiden Ranji Trophy title after ensuring a 44-run first innings lead
THE wait gets longer. Bengal, needing 72 runs to take the first innings lead and clinch the Ranji Trophy after 30 years, lost the plot in the first 15 minutes of play on the final day.
Saurashtra walked away with their maiden Ranji Trophy title after ensuring a 44-run first innings lead.
Captain Jaydev Unadkat was Saurashtra’s architect of success. He first struck with the wicket of Anustup Majumdar by trapping him leg-before and then showed excellent presence of mind by running out a callous Akash Deep.
The team management had every reason to be furious with Akash, who committed a schoolboy-like error. He was standing outside the crease and didn’t care to drag his feet in even after Saurashtra wicketkeeper Avi Barot failed to hit the stumps in his attempt to catch the Bengal batsman off-guard. A smart Unadkat got hold of the lose ball and threw it back to dislodge the stumps.
Bengal were down to 361/8 all of a sudden after resuming the day on 354/6. The other overnight batsman, Arnab Nandi, tried to wage a lone battle, but Dharmendrasinh Jadeja removed Mukesh Kumar before Unadkat picked up last man Ishan Porel to put an end to Bengal’s hopes.
In reply to Saurashtra’s 425, Bengal’s innings ended on 381. “There wasn’t any other specialist batsman to follow after I was dismissed. Akash’s dismissal too was crucial and it was a soft one as well. But yeah, my dismissal was the turning point,” a dejected Anustup said after the game.
On the other hand, Unadkat was relieved that Saurashtra could break their final jinx, having failed thrice in the last eight seasons.
For Unadkat, it was “the moment” of his career. “We kept believing there would be one more twist to this game. And that happened. This is the best moment of my career.”
Arun Lal’s contract as Bengal coach comes to an end and he will take a call on whether to continue or not only after a month.
“I will decide after a month. Bengal cricket is in my blood and I love working with these young guys. But I have to consider the rest of my life because there’s no time off whatsoever. That’s the problem.
“The CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal) would want me to stay, but let’s see,” Lal told The Telegraph.