Saurashtra’s battle hardened domestic veterans will meet their match in Maharashtra’s destructive power hitters as domestic doyens Jaydev Unadkat and Ruturaj Gaikwad square off in what promises to be an enticing grand finale of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, in Ahmedabad on Friday. If Unadkat’s opening spell literally sealed the semifinal against Karnataka, it is Gaikwad’s ‘Daddy Hundreds’ that has put Maharashtra’s total beyond reach of good batting outfits like UP and Assam.
A cursory glance at the statistics will show how Saurashtra’s road to final has been paved by their bowlers while Maharashtra’s batters have done all the heavy-lifting till the summit clash.
Actually Gaikwad didn’t even play the initial few games and in just four matches has piled up 552 runs, including the List A record breaking seven sixes in a scintillating 220 against UP and followed it up with 168 in the semifinal against Assam.
His teammate Ankit Bawne, a domestic bulwark with 571 runs in eight games is the team’s top run-getter so far. Rahul Tripathi, another white-ball specialist, who with 524 runs during the league phase, completes a worthy triangle.
Tripathi, however isn’t available anymore as he is in Bangladesh for the short three-match ODI series.
Compare this to Saurashtra’s batting stats, Samarth Vyas (431 runs) is topping the run-charts but save his double hundred at the early part of the tournament, the scores dried up as the tournament progressed.
Wicketkeeper Harvik Desai has been a steady influence with 390 runs that included a couple of hundreds and some clean glovework behind the stumps.
But just like Ruturaj’s presence gives Maharashtra a formidable look, it is Unadkat, Saurashtra’s ‘Man of All Seasons’, who can still make opposition batters wary with his subtle skills and art of knowing how to pick wickets at a level which is a notch below the international standard.
He had 67 wickets in Saurashtra’s Ranji Trophy winning season and in this edition of Vijay Hazare, he has so far taken 18 wickets at an economy rate of 3.43 across nine games.
His partners in crime are longtime teammate and left-arm orthodox Dharmendra Jadeja (15 wickets at 3.61) and the wily Chetan Sakariya (12 wickets at 4.78).
Incidentally, none of the main Saurashtra bowlers, including their seam bowling all-rounders Chirag Jani (7 wickets at 4.34) and Prerak Mankad (7 wickets at 3.92) have been taken apart this season.
Therefore, Maharashtra will have their task cut out at the Narendra Modi Stadium where toss will play an important factor.
Maharashtra’s batting can send shivers down the spine but Saurashtra, with a more measured performance this season, would know that save Gaikwad and Bawne, the others of late haven’t had a lot of batting time and they could use that to their advantage.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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