It is often said in the domestic circuit that just beating a Mumbai batter would give gratification to a bowler because taking his wicket would be a laborious task. The Saurashtra bowlers accomplished the more arduous job, by scalping 20 wickets in just about three days. Three of those batters are accomplished India stars but a disciplined Saurashtra attack defied the odds, beating Mumbai in Mumbai by 48 runs in in their Group B Ranji game on Friday (December 30).
When disciplined Saurashtra defied the odds
"It is as good as winning the Ranji Trophy," said Arpit Vasavda, the stand-in skipper of Saurashtra. The Mumbai team is led by former India captain Ajinkya Rahne with the in-form Surya Kumar Yadav, recently elevated to vice-captain in the India T20I side, and the dangerous Prithvi Shaw in their ranks. "Beating Mumbai in Mumbai is that much special. It is such a great feeling for the side. Particularly because they had a few India stars."
The Saurashtra side themselves were missing a couple of their own internationals - Cheteshwar Pujara and Jaydev Unadkat, the regular captain. Vasavda, a veteran of 70 first-class games, who was captaining Saurashtra in the absence of Unadkat, said they could beat such a powerful opposition because of their disciplined bowling and right team selection. "By nature, we are a disciplined side and we follow in the footsteps of our seniors like Pujara and Jaydev who have set a fine team culture," Vasavda said. "We have been in touch with them constantly."
Jaydev Shah, a former Ranji veteran for the side, who is now the president of Saurashtra Cricket Association, added: "Cricket in Saurashtra is going in the right direction, the development, structure and infrastructure are all given importance. It is not just in the Ranji Trophy, we have done well in all age-groups. No one is considered bigger than the team by us. And the progression from junior cricket to senior cricket is given top priority. The youngsters who have made their debut this season have done well."
Saurashtra handed a cap to Yuvrajsinh Dodiya, a young off-spinner, who has been successful in the age-group games. He claimed eight wickets - four in each innings of the game - in the match. It was baptism by fire but the 22-year-old did not show nerves. Earlier in the season opener Jay Gohli was handed his Ranji cap and in the three matches so far, has accumulated 272 runs.
"Our team selection was very accurate. We have picked the right combination. We knew the BKC wicket would turn and included Yuvrajsinh Dodiya," said Vasavda. "He bowled exceedingly well." Among Dodiya's scalps of the game were Suryakumar, Sarfaraz Khan and Rahane himself.
Apart from having the right personnel, Saurashtra made sure the lower order contributed to the total, something Mumbai failed to do. The home team was 206 for four at one stage but folded for 230 in the first innings to concede a 59-run lead. On the other hand, the visitors posted 289 in the first innings from being 127 for five. Then in the second innings, they took the total to 220 from 77 for six with No 8 batsman Dharmendrasinh Jadeja scoring 90 on a difficult track. "That was vital to our victory, our lower order," said Vasavda who himself anchored the side's first innings with a defiant 75.
Saurashtra wrapped up the match in the first hour and in seven overs in the fourth morning, limiting Mumbai, who were chasing 280 for victory, to 231 to record their first outright win of the season. Mumbai have suffered their first defeat after their two wins, against Andhra and Hyderabad.