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RESULT
Final, Eden Gardens, February 16 - 19, 2023, Ranji Trophy
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174 & 241
(T:12) 404 & 14/1

Saurashtra won by 9 wickets

Player Of The Match
3/44 & 6/85
jaydev-unadkat
Player Of The Series
907 runs
arpit-vasavada
Report

Vasavada, Jani, Jackson put Saurashtra in control of Ranji Trophy final

Four half-centuries in Saurashtra's innings, thus far, have put Bengal on the back foot

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
17-Feb-2023
Arpit Vasavada continued his fine form  •  PTI

Arpit Vasavada continued his fine form  •  PTI

Stumps Saurashtra 317 for 5 (Vasavada 81*, Jackson 59, Jani 57*, Ishan Porel 2-72) lead Bengal 174 (Shahbaz 69, A Porel 50, Sakariya 3-33, Unadkat 3-44) by 143 runs
Bengal's Ranji Trophy aspirations have taken a massive jolt with Saurashtra pulling away from their clutches slowly but surely on a leaden second day of the final at Eden Gardens.
The match appeared to be on an even keel when Bengal, having been bowled out for a paltry 174, had Saurashtra fighting for survival at 109 for 4. Then they ran into Sheldon Jackson and Arpit Vasavada, who put together 95 to steady the innings.
After Jackson fell for 59, letting aggression get the better of him in mistiming a pull to deep square leg, Vasavada flicked a switch and focused on crease occupation to blunt the bowling on a deck that had generous swing and seam movement on offer all day.
Unlike Saurashtra, Bengal's fast bowlers struggled for consistency and paid the price. This played into the hands of Chirag Jani, who used every opportunity to put the loose ball away to quickly race away to a half-century, before slowing down in the last half hour, in a bid to try and return undefeated on Saturday.
Jani's unbroken stand with Vasavada was worth 113, and as Bengal trudged off at the end of a long day, dejected and left to rue what could've been had they been more consistent.
The morning began with a lot of promise for Bengal as Mukesh Kumar and Akash Deep repeatedly troubled nightwatchman Chetan Sakariya in the air and off the pitch. In the first half hour alone, Sakariya was beaten thrice on the inside edge, hit on the box, roughed up by a bouncer and survived a close chance.
Harvik Desai, though, was solid and brought up his half-century with a neat little flick. However, he didn't last long and was superbly removed by Mukesh. After subjecting him to a succession of away-going deliveries, Mukesh had him lbw with a nip-backer with Harvik playing all around it.
Five overs later, Ishan Porel got into the act as he struck in his very first over. After troubling Sakariya with two rib-ticklers, he had him rooted to the crease and playing inside the line of a delivery that hit the seam and nipped away to hit top of off. Bengal were now a boisterous bunch and smelt a real opportunity.
Like he did in the semi-final against Karnataka, Jackson, coming off a match-winning 160, kept Bengal interested as he played some stylish drives on the up from time to time. In trying to stick with his attacking mantra, Jackson also ensured Saurashtra kept chugging along at a fair clip to eat into the deficit.
Bengal were unlucky not have Jackson on 19 when a mistimed pull off Akash Deep landed short of deep square. Saurashtra were 134 for 4 at that point. But that was the only little blot in Jackson's counterattack.
After lunch, Bengal returned to try and rough him up with short balls but couldn't sustain it long enough for them to build any kind of pressure. By the time they dismissed Jackson, Bengal's mood was more of relief than ecstasy at having broken a key partnership.
Vasavada grounded the bowlers and negated any threat they may have posed by playing copy book cricket, seemingly intent on playing late, leaving deliveries and eliminating any little risk he may have taken while he was batting with Jackson.
Where Bengal lost wickets in clumps, Saurashtra were far more cautious and solid. As their pace trio of Mukesh, Akash and Porel grew tired, Saurashtra feasted on the more-friendly medium pacer Akash Ghatak and left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed, who failed to get any purchase off the pitch.
Jani brought in the confidence of making a backs-to-the-wall 72 and 77 in the two knockout games coming into the final, and showed he was every bit effective as a regular batter would be. His two big wickets of Anustup Majumdar and Abishek Porel had helped Saurashtra crack make key breakthroughs with the ball. Now his innings had a deflating effect on Bengal, who know they have possibly one roll of the dice left to make some sort of a comeback in this match.
A second title in three seasons can't seem closer. If and when the moment arrives, it could yet be a fitting prize for both Saurashtra and one of their favourite sons, Cheteshwar Pujara, who is celebrating a special century of his own in faraway New Delhi.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Ranji Trophy

Elite, Group A
TEAMMWLDPTQuotient
BENG7412321.573
UKHND7304291.365
HP7214211.459
BRODA7214211.324
ODSA7124140.846
UP7124130.980
HRYNA7124130.855
NAGA705220.297
Elite, Group B
TEAMMWLDPTQuotient
SAU7322261.277
AP7421261.119
MAHA7304261.345
MUM7322241.533
TN7214211.225
DELHI7223170.902
ASSAM7133110.546
HYD706110.523
Elite, Group C
TEAMMWLDPTQuotient
KNTKA7403351.763
JHK7322231.102
KER7313210.992
RAJ7223201.118
CGR7340190.958
GOA7223180.906
SVCS7241130.753
PONDI715190.763
Elite, Group D
TEAMMWLDPTQuotient
MP7511331.414
PNJB7304271.605
RLYS7322221.123
VIDAR7322201.197
GUJ7241140.899
TPURA7025110.760
J + K714280.768
CHD702570.490
Plate Group
TEAMMWLDPTQuotient
MEGHA5410251.421
SIKM5311201.401
MNPR5311201.253
BIHAR5113141.258
MIZO513180.921
ARP505000.353