The Ranji Trophy 2019-20 finally initiated on Monday with two stalwarts Bengal and Saurashtra battling it out to lay their hands over the coveted trophy. It was all about Saurashtra’s gritty batting display on Day 1 as the opening duo of Harvik Desai and Avi Barot stitched an 82-run opening stand.
A strong opening stand coupled with Vishvaraj Jadeja’s half-century laid the foundation of a massive total for Saurashtra. Coming on to the second day of the final, it was all about grit, resilience and toil as the duo of Arpit Vasavada and Cheteshwar Pujara ensured that Saurashtra don’t tumble wickets in the first session of Day 2. The Jaydev Unadkat-led side steered to a total of 278/5 at the lunch at Rajkot as they amassed 72 runs in the session with 34.1 overs being bowled.
Bengal’s bowling force toiled to scalp wickets as the Pujara-Vasavada duo stayed glued to the crease and kept the scoreboard ticking in a composed manner. After scoring a resilient ton– 106 runs off 287 deliveries– Vasavada was finally shown the exit door by Shahbaz Nadeem as Saha stumped the left-hander to provide Bengal with a much-needed breakthrough.
Wickets kept falling at regular intervals for Saurashtra post Vasavada’s departure as Pujara was also sent back to the pavilion by Mukesh Kumar. The Indian international stitched a gritty 66-run knock before getting trapped off Mukesh Kumar’s delivery.
Arpit Vasavada’s ton puts Saurashtra in the driving seat
Amid the battle between both the teams, one interesting instance that caught the eye of everyone was umpire C Shamshuddin’s absence from the field. After getting hit by the ball on Day 1, Shamshuddin didn’t take the field on the second day. KN Anantha Padmanabhan had to officiate at both ends while Piyush Kakkar had to don the leg umpire’s hat. Furthermore, S Ravi was assigned third umpiring duties and the DRS decisions.
Vasavada’s ton was the difference between both the sides as Saurashtra was able to post a challenging total of 384/8 at the culmination of Day 2. The Bengal bowling force had to toil on Day 2 too in order to dent Saurashtra batsmen. Akash Deep, who emerged as the pick of the bowlers on Day 1, scalped a solitary wicket of Chetan Sakariya on the second day. Shahbaz Nadeem also scalped the prized wicket of Arpit Vasavada while Mukesh Kumar added the wickets of Pujara and Mankad under his belt.
Saurashtra 1st innings: 384/8 (Arpit Vasavada 106; Cheteshwar Pujara 66; Akash Deep 3/77)
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