KOLKATA: Three years after he dashed Bengal’s Ranji Trophy hopes in the final, Arpit Vasavada came back to haunt it at the same stage again, standing tall with an unbeaten 81 to take Saurashtra closer to its second title, here on Friday.
The Saurashtra vice-captain, whose 106 handed it a match-winning first innings lead in the 2020 final in Rajkot, once again got under the skin of the Bengal bowlers, sharing two key partnerships with Sheldon Jackson (59) and Chirag Jani (57 not out).
The duo of Vasavada and Jani, who were going strong with an unbroken 113-run partnership, boosted the run-rate in the post-tea session, helping the team to extend its first-innings lead to 143.
Saurashtra was 317 for five at close on day two in reply to Bengal’s 174 all out. Fresh from his match-winning double century against Karnataka in the semi-final, Vasavada continued from where he left off in his unbeaten 81-run 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. Its 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 for the 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 the score past Bengal’s 174.
Veteran batter Jackson gifted his wicket away after scoring his 35th fifty. He mistimed his pull off Porel to be holed out at fine leg.
Final: Bengal 174 vs Saurashtra 317/5 in 87 overs (A Vasavada 81*, S Jackson 59, C Jani 57*, H Desai 50)
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