Ranji Trophy final: Unadkat, Sakariya put Saurashtra on top

Chetan Sakariya
Saurashtra bowler Chetan Sakariya being greeted by his teammates after dismissing Sudip Kumar Gharami. Photo: PTI/Swapan Mahapatra

Kolkata: Bengal's dream of winning a Ranji Trophy after more than three decades suffered a big setback as left-arm Saurashtra pace duo of Jaydev Unadkat and Chetan Sakariya rattled the home team's top-order to bundle them out for a paltry 174 on the opening day of the summit clash here on Thursday.

It would have been more embarrassing for Bengal but spin all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed (69) and wicketkeeper Abhishek Porel (50) saved the hosts' blushes with gritty half-centuries.

The duo showed the way for the top-order in a 101-run stand for the seventh wicket and batted close to four hours to frustrate Saurashtra.

But they looked in a sense of urgency and took risks as Saurashtra wrapped up Bengal innings' with left-arm spinner Dharmendrasingh Jadeja (2/19) scalping two wickets.

Saurashtra were 81/2, trailing Bengal by 93 runs, at stumps on day one.

In-form opener Harvik Desai (38), who has more than 600 runs this season, was at the crease with night watchman Sakariya (2).

The duo survived some late charge by Bengal pace duo of Akash Deep and Mukesh Kumar to bring the deficit under 100.

With their leading run-getter of the season Aprit Vasavada (826 runs at 75.06) yet to come along with the prolific duo of Sheldon Jackson (529) and Chirag Jani (509), Saurashtra would definitely fancy a first innings lead.

Bengal bowlers looked pedestrian at start but Akash Deep and Mukesh Kumar took some purchase in the fag end of the day to dismiss Jay Gohil (6) and Vishvaraj Jadeja (25) respectively.

Making a comeback after being released from the Test side, Unadkat (3/44) produced a terrific opening spell of 5-2-7-2, while Sakariya (3/33) made the ball talk in initially to reduce Bengal to 17/4 inside 31 minutes.

Bengal lost half of their side at the score of 34 in one hour and 13 minutes with third seamer Chirag Jani (2/33) also making good use of the lively Eden surface.

After winning a good toss on a green top, Unadkat along with Sakariya set the tone in the morning session, dismissing their top-four batters inside 17 runs.

Surviving the first-hour's play when the ball swings viciously on the Eden strip was always going to be key.

It was the visitors who exploited the conditions well, bowling a probing line that teased the batters' off-stump.

The need of the first hour was to show some patience and judge the ball well but the top-four Bengal batters went on with pre-mediated shots and lasted just 29 balls.

Abhimanyu Easwaran showed sheer lack of application and fell for a duck becoming Unadkat's victim in the fifth ball of the day.

The spirited start pumped up the Saurashtra camp and Sumanta Gupta, making a debut in the final, could not sustain the pressure, succumbing to a peach of a delivery from Sakariya at the other end to be out for one.

Sakariya was on a roll as he cleaned up Sudip Kumar Gharami's off-stump two balls later.

Skipper Manoj Tiwary became Unadkat's second victim when he poked at a wide delivery to edge one to Vishvaraj Jadeja at gully.

All eyes were on another veteran Anustup Majumdar, who was Bengal's leading run-getter this season, to revive the innings.

Majumdar also built a mini partnership with rookie pace bowling all-rounder Akash Ghatak, who replaced Pradipta Pramanik in the playing XI, and was promoted to No 6.

But Majumdar played a freak shot against Saurashtra's third seamer Jani as Bengal lost half of their side at the stroke of drinks in the first session.

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