So, here we are! After two and a half months of pulsating, gobsmacking, enthralling encounters around the length and breadth of the country, we are finally down to the summit clash of the 2019-20 edition of the Ranji Trophy with Saurashtra taking on a resurgent Bengal at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot.
For both sides, reaching the finals have its own implications. Bengal hasn’t won a Ranji Trophy title since their epic triumph in 1989-90 and this is the time since 2006-07 that they made their way in the summit clash. And, they did that with absolute disdain by knocking over past champions Karnataka by a whopping margin of 174 runs.
Saurashtra, on the other hand, has done what they have been doing consistently over the past few seasons now i.e make it the finals. They have done that on four occasions in the past eight seasons, and they will be hoping to shrug off the ignominy of experiences where they have endured ‘so close yet so far’ moments in the summit clash.
That Saurashtra has been able to make the finals is largely due to the lion-hearted effort by their skipper in Jaydev Undakat, who, in a lion-hearted effort claimed a seven-wicket haul in the second innings of the semi-final to deny Gujarat a place in the finals.
Both sides have been bolstered by the addition of Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha to their respective line-ups for Monday’s finale.
The home side will once again bank on the likes of Sheldon Jackson (783 runs at 52.20), Arpit Vasavada (654 runs at 54.50), Cheteshwar Pujara (509 runs at 63.62) and Harvik Desai (538 runs at 31.64) to lead their batting-unit while Jaydev Unadkat (65 wickets at 12.16) and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (29 wickets at 32.89) will be the key with the bowl.
Probable XI: Harvik Desai, Avi Barot (WK), Cheteshwar Pujara, Vishvaraj Jadeja, Sheldon Jackson, Arpit Vasavada, Chirag Jani, Prerak Mankad, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Jaydev Unadkat (C), Chetan Shakariya
Anustup Majumdar scored a whirlwind 149 out of Bengal’s first innings score of 312 in the semi-finals. Majumdar (641 runs at 58.27), Manoj Tiwary (672 runs at 51.69) and Shahbaz Ahmed (493 runs at 37.92) have ably made up for the struggles of their top-order batters like Abhimanyu Easwaran (249 runs at 17.78), something they’ll have to repeat in the finals if Bengal is to break their Ranji Title jinx.
Bengal’s bowling is arguably their X-Factor. The likes of Porel (22 wickets at 16.81), Shahbaz Ahmed (30 wickets at 15.10) and Mukesh Kumar (30 wickets at 19.36) have been absolutely brilliant but they will have their work cut-out on a placid track in Rajkot.
Koushik Ghosh/Abhishek Raman, Abhimanyu Easwaran (c), Arnab Nandi, Manoj Tiwary, Anustup Majumdar, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shahbaz Ahmed, Mukesh Kumar, Ishan Porel, Akash Deep
Focus will be on
Cheteshwar Pujara (SAU)– Pujara has been the bedrock of the Saurashtra team for over a decade now but his performances in the final leaves a lot to be desired. The Indian No.3 managed scores of 0 and 1 in last year’s final and will be itching to redeem himself tomorrow.
Manoj Tiwary (BEN)- With 672 runs in 15 innings at an average of 51.69 which includes three half-centuries and a triple-hundred, Tiwary has been one of the cornerstones of what has been a fairytale season for Bengal. Will the senior pro repeat the heroics of the league-stage in the grand-finale?
Jaydev Unadkat (SAU)- Jaydev Unadkat has led the Saurashtra bowling attack with utmost precision. The left-hander bowled his heart out in the semi-finals to claim a crucial seven-wicket haul in the second innings. Does Unadkat have another lion-hearted effort up his sleeve?
Ishan Porel (BEN)- He may not have played all the games this season, but in whatever opportunities that he has got, the fast bowler has shown his pedigree to the hilt. In just 5 games, Porel has claimed 22 wickets, and his battle against the likes of Pujara will be one of the many sub-plots that will decide the final.
1- Number of times Saurashtra and Bengal have met in Ranji Trophy. That was during the 2012-13 season where Saurashtra came up trumps by 270 runs.
2006-07- The last time Bengal made their way into the Ranji finals where they lost to Mumbai. The last time Bengal won a Ranji title was way back in 1989-90
4- Number of times Saurashtra has reached the finals in the past eight seasons.
3- Number of wickets required by Jaydev Unadkat [65 wickets] to pip Ashutosh Aman’s record tally of 68 wickets [in 2018-19] in a single season.
Live Streaming: Hotstar
TV: Star Sports
Match Timings: 09:30 AM IST
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