Ranji Trophy: Saurashtra end 75-year wait

Saurashtra walloped Punjab by 229 runs to seal their spot in this year's Ranji Trophy final.

The Saurashastra squad celebrates after defeating Punjab. (Skandan Sampath, Yahoo! Cricket)

Day 4 | Day 3 | Day 2 | Day 1

Rajkot: “Boys. We have made it to the Ranji Trophy finals”, said Jaydev Unadkat at the team huddle, before the entire team began hooting and cheering. And, why not. To dismiss a team before lunch, and to win by 229 runs, is an achievement.

But not bigger than making it to the Ranji Trophy final for the first time in 75 years.

When the bell rang to announce the start of play on the final day. Mandeep Singh and Ravi Inder Singh made their way to the crease and started well. Unadkat was guilty of bowling short, and Mandeep had no trouble pulling him away to the fence. It was clear that a day five pitch would have something for the spinners, and when the hosts brought them on, the Punjabis began to fall apart. Without offering a fight.

At 09:45 AM, Mandeep Singh got into deep trouble, when he decided to offer his front pad to Vishal Joshi. What he didn’t fathom was the turn. The ball went through his legs to hit the stumps. As he walked off, Mandeep knew that it was a mistake on his part.

Opener Ravi Inder Singh came down the track, with an intention of clearing mid-off, only to miscue, and hit the ball straight into the hands of substitute Chirag Phatak. Four wickets down, and Punjab were under pressure.

Amitoze Singh and Uday Kaul went on the defensive, as Joshi grew in confidence, teasing the two batsmen with his flight. It was clear that they had to stay at the crease, but then they were far too edgy, and it showed.Saurashtra players and officials celebrate at Rajkot. (Skandan Sampath, Yahoo! Cricket)

Amitoze swept, with the ball turning in sharply, and the ball flew towards square leg. Kamlesh Makvana ran like he was running for his life. After a quick sprint, he dived, to take a good double-handed catch. Bipul Sharma ran into bat, but made his way back in the same time. The left-hander forgot that he was wearing whites, stepping out for a slog, only to find sub Sanandiya at point. Bowler Dharmendrasinh Jadeja was only pleased.

Uday Kaul was trapped in the crease without the bat hitting ball. After the leg-before-wicket appeal, he walked back for 7 as Punjab’s 7th wicket was registered on the scoreboard. His younger brother, Siddharth Kaul came in. Soon, he took a few tentative steps forward, only to be beaten, keeper Jogiyani fumbled and Kaul survived. The nerves were showing.

Harbhajan Singh knew that there was no point hanging around, and decided to go for a big heave. But the ball managed to evade Sheldon Jackson, who was running backwards towards long on. But the end was only around the corner. No.9 Kaul was trapped leg-before-wicket by Jadeja, and soon Harbhajan’s hoik only saw the ball hitting the wood behind him. One more wicket and Saurashtra would be ready to add one more chapter in their history books.

They didn’t have to wait for long.

In a fitting end to the game, Vishal Joshi finished on a high five, by hitting Sandeep Sharma’s stumps. When a team from Ranjitsinhji’s homeland makes it to the final of the country’s domestic competition bearing his name, it has to be special.

One more step, should make it a lot more sweeter. Till then, Saurashtra wait for their opponents.

Quick Quotes:
We took it step by step. Our bowlers did well. Everyone chipped in. We wish that Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja join us for the final - Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Shah.

I think we didn’t bat well. We played rash shots. That’s not the way to play five-day cricket. Kotak batted on the same wicket, he did well. The toss was crucial, Saurashtra put themselves in a situation where they couldn’t lose. They were the better team - Punjab skipper Harbhajan Singh.

Day 5 Scoreboard:
Punjab (2nd Innings)
Jiwanjot Singh  c Vasavada b Unadkat 11
Ravi Inder Singh c sub (Pathak) b Joshi 25
Taruwar Kohli c Kotak b Unadkat 13
Mandeep Singh b Joshi 33
Uday Kaul lbw b Jadeja 7
Amitoze Singh c Makvana b Joshi 5
Bipul Sharma c sub (S Sanandiya) b Jadeja 0
Harbhajan Singh b Joshi 6
Siddharth Kaul lbw b Jadeja 2
Sandeep Sharma b Joshi 12
Sarabjit Ladda not out 5
Extras 0
Total: 119 all out
Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-30, 3-71, 4-82, 5-88, 6-91, 7-98, 8-102, 9-102, 10-119

Jaydev Unadkat  8-2-30-2
Kamlesh Makvana 4-0-15-0
Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 14-3-25-3
Vishal Joshi 11-1-43-5
Siddharth Trivedi 3-0-6-0

Brief Scores: Saurashtra 477 (Sheldon Jackson 107, Jaydev Shah 87, Kamlesh Makvana 85, S Ladda 3-109, S Kaul 3-119) and 170 (Shitanshu Kotak 54, Sheldon Jackson 44*, Harbhajan Singh 4-60, S Kaul 3-53) defeated Punjab 299 (Ravi Inder Singh 74, Jiwanjot Singh 68, Vishal Joshi 4-59, Jaydev Unadkat 3-56) and 119 (Mandeep Singh 33, R Inder Singh 25, Vishal Joshi 5-43, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 3-25) by 229 runs.