Vidarbha to take on Saurashtra in Ranji Trophy final.
The battle lines are drawn . Defending chamnpion Vidarbha will take on Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy final beginning at VCA Jamtha Stadium on Sunday. Tthe summit clash will not just be about Pujara and Umesh only but also about Wasim Jaffer, who is a domestic doyen in every sense of theÂ terms.AtÂ the age of 40, the reflexes may have gone down but sheer class and improved fitness has ensured that Jaffer remains a force to reckon with in domestic cricket with 1003 runs to his name before the fina. Saurashtra do have an edge with Pujara in their line-up but Jafferâ€™s flair has the power to negate it. He has been Vidarbhaâ€™s batting mainstay this season with four hundreds, including a double ton.
Indiaâ€™s hero during the Australia Test series, however downplayed his presence. â€œItâ€™s not that Saurashtra will have edge because of my presence. This team has got some exciting youngsters like Harvik (Desai) and Arpit (Vasavada). This team has done well fir some time as a unit,â€ Pujara toldÂ after a netÂ session.TheÂ final will be a test of batting depths as both sides have capable willow wielders till NoÂ 9.SaurashtraÂ coach Sitanshu Kotak and captain Jaydev Unadkat echoed the same sentiment, underlining that one or other player has raised his hand in different crunchÂ situations.SheldonJackson (838 runs) and former India U-19 Desai (763 runs) have been the batting mainstays for Saurashtra when Pujara was on nationalÂ duty.Itâ€™sÂ ditto for defending champions. The run-chart led by Jaffer, has at least eight such batsmen, who have 30-plus average with five of them figuring in 10Â matches.TheirÂ ever-dependable skipper Faiz Fazal (786 runs) and young Akshay Wadkar (680 runs) have made a telling contributions in teamâ€™s superb run with three hundreds each.
The defending champions have the edge in bowling with Umesh in their ranks but Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Unadkat could also prove to be a handful if he gets some help from the track.
Umesh, who has a great track record on flat decks, has picked up 21 wickets in the last two matches. He straight away made an impact after coming back from Australia, troubling Uttarakhand and Kerala.
Against Kerala in the semi-finals, he singlehandedly won the match with a 12-wicket haul.
Along with Umesh there is current India A regular Rajneesh Gurbani, Yash Thakur, Suniket Bingewar and India U-19 World Cupper Aditya Thakare.
Gurbani has not had made a big impact as he has struggled to pick wickets. However captain Fazal defended the bowler saying that his contribution cannot be ignored in any way even though he has picked only six wickets.