Ranji Trophy final: Vasavada hands Saurashtra big lead

Arpit Vasavada
Arpit Vasavada in action. Photo: PTI/Swapan Mahapatra

Kolkata: Three years after he crushed Bengal's Ranji Trophy hopes in the final, Arpit Vasavada once again came to haunt them at the same stage again, standing tall with an unbeaten 81 to take Saurashtra closer to their second title, here on Friday.

The Saurashtra vice-captain, whose 106 handed them a match-winning first innings lead in the 2020 final in Rajkot, once again got under the skin of Bengal, sharing two key partnerships with Sheldon Jackson (59) and Chirag Jani (57 batting).

Vasavada and Jani have added 113 runs for the unbroken sixth-wicket stand. The two stepped up the run-rate in the post-tea session, extending their first innings lead to 143.

Saurashtra were 317/5 at close on day two in reply to Bengal's 174.

Fresh from his match-winning double century against Karnataka in the semifinal, Vasavada continued from where he left off and stood tall in his unbeaten knock that came off 155 balls. He slammed 11 boundaries.

Jani also looked at ease hitting 10 boundaries as the duo dictated terms especially in the final session.

Their pace-heavy attack turning out to be a big letdown, Bengal took 46 minutes to get the first breakthrough in the morning session.

By then, overnight batter Harvik Desai (50) got to his 12th half-century in a dogged partnership with night-watchman Chetan Sakariya who saw off the first hour with a resolute eight off 45 balls.

Mukesh Kumar and Ishan Porel dismissed Desai and Sakariya in addition of just eight runs but from thereon the left-handed Vasavada seized control with Jackson in a 95-run partnership that set the tone and took their score past Bengal's 174.

Veteran Jackson gifted his wicket away after scoring his 35th fifty. He mistimed his pull off Ishan Porel to be holed out at fine leg.

But Jani came to pile on Bengal's misery with his entertaining strokeplay in their century-plus stand that virtually sealed their second Ranji triumph.

Making full use of a reprieve on 26 when Shahbaz Ahmed dropped a sitter, Jani raced to his 13th first-class half-century off 72 balls.

After the play resumed post-tea break which was extended by 20 minutes because of bad light, Jani stepped on the gas as he drove, pulled and also straight-drove one with elegance.

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