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April 7, 2008
Saurashtra 216 for 5 (Pathak 58, Kotak 53) beat Vidarbha 212 for 9 (Paunikar 63, Jangid 51) by five wickets
An allround show enabled Saurashtra to overcome Vidarbha by five wickets and enter the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy in Visakhapatnam. Chasing 213, Saurashtra rode on half-centuries from Chirag Pathak and Shitanshu Kotak to reach the target with 15 balls to spare. This will be Saurashtra's maiden appearance in the final of this tournament.
Vidarbha's decision to bat first did not pay off as they would have expected. Faiz Fazal, the in-form opener, fell in the very first over and it was left to Amit Paunikar to grind out a patient 108-ball 63. He received good support from Ravi Jangid, whose 67-ball 51 provided the innings with some momentum.
Saurashtra, though, fought back through left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja. Coming off a good run in the recently concluded U-19 World Cup, Jadeja struck three vital blows in the middle overs to put the skids on Vidarbha. He conceded 49 runs in his ten overs but his triple-strike went a long way in restricting Vidarbha to a below-par score.
Pathak got Saurashtra off to a steady start. He lost his opening partner, Sagar Jogiyani, early but his 81-run stand with Jaydev Shah, the captain, put them on course. Shah's dismissal was quickly followed by another - Cheteshwar Pujara's run-out - but Kotak, the veteran, drew on all his experience to seal the victory. He was unbeaten at the end and it was fitting that he was Jadeja, the hero with the ball, who was with him at the sweet moment.
Saurashtra will now face Bengal in the final on Thursday.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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