Saurashtra Cricket Team – Cheteshwar Pujara’s controversial 131* steered Saurashtra to their third Ranji Trophy final.
Cheteshwar Pujara, in a controversial knock of unbeaten 131, guided Saurashtra to a five-wicket win over Karnataka in the semi-finals of the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy on Monday.
Saurashtra Cricket Team
Pujara and Sheldon Jackson’s (100) heroics ensured their team reached only their third Ranji Trophy final after they chased down Karnataka’s target of 279 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
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When Saurashtra resumed on Day 5, they were in a comfortable position as they were just 55 runs away from a win and still had seven wickets in hand.
Pujara, the architect of the chase, continued to frustrate the opposition. Saurashtra lost Jackson but there was still peace in China as they had Pujara at one end.
Jaydev Unadkat, who took seven wickets in the match, and left-arm Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, who claimed five wickets in the second innings, deserve credit for helping Saurashtra win the semi-final.
Despite winning the match for Saurashtra, Pujara is being criticized for not leaving despite being bowled on the fourth day during an over by Vinay Kumar.
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On the fourth day, Karnataka’s Abhimanyu Mithun scalped Harvick Desai (9) to take Saurashtra out for three for 23.
It could have been worse when Pujara gave away one of the wickets to wicketkeeper Srinivas Sharath, but the umpire dismissed the appeal.
Vinay couldn’t believe his luck and was furious and disappointed considering Pujara’s scalp was a valuable one.
The TV replays clearly showed that Pujara had bowled it, but not Karnataka’s day as the match was out of their hands after that.
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The home bowlers struggled throughout the day as they only saw Pujara and Jackson bowl their fourth innings.
Benefiting from the shouts of the umpires, Pujara would receive a standing ovation from the home fans as he walked onto the pitch still winless.
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Saurashtra is more than just a cricket team. It is a well-oiled unit, more like a big family that lives together, hunts together and, in some cases, dominates indoor racing together.
There were emotional scenes after Maharashtra beat Saurashtra in the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy this week. Captain Jaydev Unadkat got down on his knees and soaked wet before going to the presentation ceremony, where he received cheers from his opponents and then his teammates for a brave display with bat and ball.
As the trophy was handed to the lanky Seaman, he motioned to the stands and asked his teammates’ family members to join in the celebration. This is a rare sight in the inner orbit. It was after Unadkat’s insistence that the association agreed to the arrangement and most of the family members have been with the team since the quarter-finals of India’s biggest List A tournament.
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Jaydev started this and the forum supports it. Now all the players start accompanying their families. Not only for the knockouts, but if the window allows, they are also in league games. The knockouts were in Gujarat, so most families could join earlier, as it was closer to home.
Two special participants were also present in the booth. Wife and daughter of Avi Barot, the late Saurashtra cricketer, who died of a heart attack in October 2021. The aggressive batsman was only 29 years old and his wife was expecting their first child. The entire Saurashtra camp was touched by their presence and rejoiced to win the title in the presence of their late teammates’ families.
I can’t describe it in words… Avi and I were in the same division and we played together in CAG. We played a lot of cricket together for CAG and Saurashtra. When we won the couple, it was very emotional to see his wife and daughter in the stands. Avi was full of life…so alive. He kept the atmosphere very light. He talked a lot, talked a lot and kept everything light and loud. We still feel his aura with us. We always feel his presence around us. Arpit said, it was a great touch to see his wife and daughter supporting us from the table.
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Saurashtra is more than just a cricket team. It is a well-oiled unit, more like a big family that sticks together, hunts together and, in their case, dominates indoor racing together. In the last decade, they have done well in red ball cricket and now they have turned a corner in white ball format.
I played for Saurashtra for a long time. The first time we played the Ranji Final was in 2012-13 against Mumbai. Since then, we have played a total of four Ranji Trophy finals, two Vijay Hazare Trophy finals and managed to win Vijay Hazare this time. I saw that culture changed. Arpit added: We turned from an average team to a top team.
A look at the Saurashtra squad for this year’s Vijay Hazare Trophy final (vs Maharashtra) and 2019-20 Ranji Trophy final (vs Bengal), with some new names. The Unadkat-led unit won the title on both occasions and stuck with the same set of people.
We are now a fully established unit. All the players have been playing together for a long time. They fit well in the team. One thing is the safety of the players… they are not insecure about their position or their role or their name in the team. The place is cemented. Once this is done, the mindset changes to the team’s goals and objectives.
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No one plays for himself, everyone wants to do well for the whole team and contribute to the team’s goals. Everyone has a special role and everyone plays it well. No other coach or captain describes the role as well as everyone knows. We know very clearly what the team wants in a particular situation. That’s why we’re doing well.”
Arpit, who has played 67 first-class matches for Saurashtra, is the crisis man for the team. Four of his eight hundreds came at the FC level in the 2019-20 Ranji season, which Saurashtra completely dominated. Arpit scored 763 runs at an average of 54.50 this season.
All shots this year were very special, especially the semi-finals and the final. I would like to make a special mention of the semi final against Gujarat. The team was under a lot of pressure and when I remember those matches, I get problems. Even now (laughs). We were 5/15 in the second innings and there were more than two days left. I went and scored a hat trick. Gaja (who picked seven wickets in that innings) took two wickets in two balls. This scenario was very difficult. It was a special innings (139) to get the team out of there and win that game,” Arpit recalled.
While Saurashtra have always been among the big boys of the Ranji Trophy, it was the shorter format that needed attention. Ever since he took over the captaincy, Unadkat has instilled confidence in the unit and brought his IPL/international experience to the team. According to Arpit, the team acquired the killer instinct and fearless need to excel.
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“Cheteshwar always comes and plays for us in the Ranji Trophy whenever he gets the window. (Ravindra) Jadeja has not played for Saurashtra for a long time. Pujara’s red ball experience has always been there for us and he is so amazing. But the white ball change that Jaydev Unadkat brought is brilliant. He started this culture. We were not as afraid, not as confident in the white ball as we are now. This approach is put in everyone’s mind by Unadkat. I think it has a vision of how a team can do well in limited overs. His vision is a little different from what we have had in the past. His great skill is to convey that personal experience. The way he delivers is great, whether we win or lost, we are having a lot of fun now. Playing under his captain and playing white ball cricket. We started enjoying the challenges posed by the good teams