Nagpur: Left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate scalped the prize wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara in a game-changing spell to complement a splendid rearguard action that put defending champions Vidarbha on top in the Ranji Trophy final against Saurashtra, here on Monday.
After a depressing Sunday, it was an engrossing Monday that entirely belonged to the home team. They first made a remarkable recovery to score 312 in their first innings after resuming at 200 for 7 and then reduced the visitors to 158 for 5 at stumps. With spinners extracting significant turn and bounce exploiting the roughs, Sarwate (3/55) and off-spinner Akshay Wakhare (2/42) blew away Saurashtra’s top half to seize the momentum.
Saurashtra were still trailing by 154 runs as only Snell Patel offered resistance with his fighting knock of unbeaten 87, which came off 160 balls and had 14 boundaries. Patel had survived an appeal for a close catch off Wakhare’s bowling when he was on 75. The TV replays showed that the ball did kiss his gloves before going to the forward short-leg fielder.
All-rounder Prerak Mankad was batting on 16 with Patel when second day’s play ended. On a day when star India players Pujara and Umesh Yadav were in action, it was Vidarbha’s Sarwate and Akshay Karnewar (73 not out), who stood out with their splendid efforts. Pujara scored just 1 while Umesh bowled 13 wicket-less overs though he did intimidate the opposition batsman with his pace and bounce.
Sarwate did a huge favour to his side by cutting short Pujara’s stay at the wicket to just 11 balls while Karnewar led their fight-back with dogged batting down the batting order. The southpaw struck his second first class half-century and added 78 runs for the eighth wicket with Wakhare (34 off 78 balls) as Vidarbha added 112 runs in the first session.
Pujara’s was a big wicket considering that he was India’s hero in their maiden Test series triumph in Australia and had also played a key role in Saurashtra’s two victories in back-to back knock-out matches. Neverthless, Puajara had come good in second innings in both the triumphs and Saurashtra would hope that Patel and Mankad would continue to erase the deficit to keep them in the game.
Coming to bowl, Vidarbha brought Sarwate as early as in the third over and the move paid off immediately as he trapped Harvik Desai (10) with his third ball. It turned a bit after pitching in line and Desai, who was on back-foot, missed the line completely.