Nagpur: Spinners Aditya Sarwate and Akshay Wakhare blew away Saurashtra’s top half, including Cheteshwar Pujara, to wrest the advantage for defending champions Vidarbha on the second day of the Ranji Trophy final here on Monday. Left-arm spinner Sarwate got rid of Pujara in what could be a game-changing spell to complement a splendid rearguard action that helped the hosts recover from a poor start and rocket back to the driver’s seat.
Vidarbha earlier made a remarkable recovery to score 312 in their first innings after resuming the day at 200/7 and then reduced the visitors to 158/5 at stumps on the second day. Sarwate (3/55) and off-spinner Wakhare (2/42) starred for the hosts on a surface that had something in it for the tweakers. Saurashtra were still 154 runs in arrears as only Snell Patel offered resistance with his gritty unbeaten 87, which came off 160 balls and was laced with 14 boundaries. Patel had survived an appeal for a close catch off Wakhare’s bowling when he was on 75.
All-rounder Prerak Mankad was batting on 16 with Patel when play came to a close. Earlier, Vidarbha’s Akshay Karnewar (73 not out), stood out with his splendid effort. India Test regulars Pujara could manage just 1 while Umesh Yadav bowled 13 wicket-less overs. Sarwate took the biggest wicket when he cut short Pujara’s stay at the crease to just 11 balls while Karnewar led their fight back with dogged batting down the batting order.
The left-hander struck his second first class half-century and added 78 runs for the eighth wicket with Wakhare (34 off 78 balls) as Vidarbha added 112 runs in the first session. Sarwate came in to bowl in the third over and the move paid off immediately as he trapped Harvik Desai (10) with his third ball. At the stroke of tea, Sarwate struck again and trapped Vishwaraj Jadeja, who made a 18 off 72 balls.
Pujara was next and Sarwate induced an edge that flew to Wasim Jaffer at first slip. Arpit Vasavada was dropped on zero by wicket-keeper Akshay Wadkar but the left-hander could not capitalise on the chance. Wakhare got his back with a sharp-turning delivery, which took the edge and went to Jaffer in first slip. The off-spinner also sent back Sheldon Jackson (9) as Saurashtra struggled.
In the first session, Saurashtra bowlers could not get the breakthrough for 22 overs before left-arm pacer Chetan Sakariya got them the wicket of Wakhare. Umesh (13) edged one behind off Jaydev Unadkat after finding two boundaries off Sakariya. The tail added some more runs for Vidarbha as Rajneesh Gurbani drove Unadkat for a four and Karnewar hammered Sakariya for a six. Makwana bowled Gurbani to end his team’s misery. Brief scores: Vidarbha 312 (overnight score 200/7) Akshay Karnewar 73 not out; Akshay Wadkar 45; Jaydev Unadkat 3/54) vs Saurashtra 158/5 (Snell Patel 87 batting, Prerak Mankad 16 batting; Aditya Sarwate 3/55).