Irani Trophy 2022-23: Kuldeep Sen’s crucial 2nd innings fifer (5-94) helps ROI beat Saurashtra
Irani Trophy 2022-23, Saurashtra vs Rest of India, Top Performances: Kuldeep Sen's 8-135, Mukesh Kumar's 5-72, Sarfaraz Khan's 138 runs and Jaydev Unadkat's all round show (101 runs, 4-137) are top performances. Rest of India beat Saurashtra by 8 wickets.
Brief Scores: Saurashtra 98 (Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 28, Mukesh 4/23, Malik 3/25) & 380 (Unadkat 89, Mankad 72, Sen 5/94, Saurabh 3/80) lost to Rest of India 374 (Sarfaraz 138, Vihari 82, Sakariya 5/93) & 105/2 (Easwaran 63*, Bharat 27*) by 8 wickets
Player of the Match: Mukesh Kumar – 4/23 & 1/49
The Rest of India (ROI) defeated 2019-20 Ranji Trophy champions Saurashtra at the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) Stadium in Rajkot by eight wickets on Tuesday to win the Irani Trophy 2022-23. Abhimanyu Easwaran's unbeaten 63 helped ROI complete the chase of 105 runs in the fourth innings in less than two sessions on day four.
Earlier, a gallant comeback led by Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Unadkat's 89 enabled Saurashtra to overcome a 276-run deficit after being dismissed for 98 in their first innings. As Saurashtra attempted to postpone the Rest of India's eventual victory, left-arm seamer Unadkat returned to claim the early wickets of ROI openers - Priyank Panchal and Yash Dhull.
Moreover, Sheldon Jackson and Arpit Vasavada, who have previously rescued Saurashtra from such situations tried their very best but eventually failed to get their team to safety. Left-hand batter Arpit Vasavada and Sheldon Jackson combined to add 117 runs for the sixth wicket to steady the Saurashtra ship but eventually failed to save them from certain defeat after their first innings debacle.
There were a lot of outstanding performances in this year’s Irani Trophy starting from Mukesh Kumar and Kuldeep Sens’s brilliant opening spell to Jaydev Unadkat’s magnificent all-round performance.
Let’s take a look at all the top performances from the Irani Trophy 2022-23 match between the Rest of India and Saurashtra.
Kuldeep Sen (8/135)
After being one of the top performers for Madhya Pradesh in the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy Season, Kuldeep has proved his worth at all levels since then. Considering his brilliant performance in the Indfian Premier League (IPL) for Rajasthan Royals (RR) and recently concluded series against New Zealand A, Kuldeep has been an absolute star with the ball. The right-arm fast bowler from Madhya Pradesh has over 52 first-class wickets in 17 matches at an impressive strike rate of 50.1.
Kuldeep Sen bowled some really fast and unplayable deliveries in the 1st innings of the Irani Trophy. Even the experienced Cheteshwar Pujara had some serious trouble playing Kuldeep and often looked very uncomfortable facing him and eventually getting out caught in the slip cordon in the first innings. Kuldeep's extra pace and nip through the surface troubled each and every Saurashtra batter, resulting in their first innings collapse and restricting them to 98 runs.
Kuldeep Sen finished with a total of 8 wickets in the match including a fifer in the second innings, which was really crucial as he made breakthroughs when Rest of India needed them the most.
Read More: From U-19 cricket in Bihar and Ranji brilliance for Bengal to India A: Mukesh Kumar’s unique story
Mukesh Kumar (5/72)
Mukesh Kumar, Sen's partner, was adjudged as the Player of the Match for his performance on the first morning, during which he went through the Saurashtra top three and then added Sheldon Jackson's wicket as another feather on his cap.
The 28-year-old Mukesh Kumar is taking Indian cricket by storm for the past two years; coming through the ranks with some brilliant performances for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy, Mukesh has been in absolute red hot form since the 2019-20 Ranji season and the recently concluded India A vs New Zealand A unofficial Test series. He has taken 114 wickets in 31 first class games at an average of 22.14 and an impressive strike rate of 48.3.
Talking about his recent performance in the Irani Trophy, the Bengal bowler was unplayable in the first innings bowling some brilliant outswingers to top-class batters like Harvik Desai, Cheteshwar Pujara and Sheldon Jackson. As Saurashtra collapsed to 98 all out in 24.5 overs, Kumar dismissed Harvik Desai (0), Snell Patel (4), Chirag Jani (0) and Sheldon Jackson (2).
Read More: There are Run Machines and there are Knockout Match Heroes: Rajat Patidar is all about the latter
Sarfaraz Khan (138 runs)
The Mumbai middle-order batter has been an absolute treat to watch since 2019 in the Indian domestic circuit. Sarfaraz has been one of the most prolific middle-order batters in terms of performance.
Sarfaraz Khan, the batter, is having a fantastic season in the domestic circuit. In the Irani Trophy 2022-23, playing for Rest of India against Saurashtra, the right-hand batter scored 138 from 178 balls in the first innings, helping his side get a substantial lead of 200+ runs.
Following an impressive bowling performance by the Rest of India, after dismissing the Saurashtra side for 98 in 24.5 overs, their batters struggled, with Abhimanyu Easwaran, Mayank Agarwal and Yash Dhull all falling cheaply. Hanuma Vihari and Sarfaraz then combined to register an outstanding 220-run stand for the fourth wicket and saved their team from a difficult situation. Vihari fell after reaching 82 runs, but Sarfaraz kept playing his shots, finishing with another hundred that included 20 boundaries and 2 sixes.
With age on his side, Sarfaraz Khan is definitely the next big thing in Indian cricket with 2928 runs from 29 first class games at a humongous average of 81.33. Considering his skills, he is an absolute treat to watch in any format and one would expect him to do well in the near future.
Read More: Ind A vs NZ A, Unofficial ODIs: Sanju Samson top run-scorer; Kuldeep Yadav tops wicket-takers’ list
Jaydev Unadkat (101 runs, 4/137)
Jaydev Unadkat has been a prolific performer for the Saurashtra team for the past few years. He has also recently started to make his mark with the bat also. His little cameos for RR in the IPL were also quite impressive and following that his good form with the bat was on display in the Irani Trophy match as well scoring 89 runs, batting at number 9 in the second innings against ROI. This was also the highest individual score for Saurashtra. His innings certainly saved Saurashtra from an innings defeat in this game.
Unadkat did no injustice to his primary skill of seam bowling as well. After being bowled out for 98 in the first innings, Saurashtra expected someone to stand out in the bowling department and Unadkat was upto the task in the initial phase. He rattled the ROI top order getting Abhimanyu Easwaran (0) and Yash Dhull (5) very early in the match. The Saurashtra skipper ended up with the figures of 24-1-100-2 in the first innings and 11-2-37-2 in the second innings.
Ranji Trophy 2022-23 kicks off on December 13 this year with the 37 teams in the domestic circuit playing groupwise matches on different venues across India. The season will culminate with the final to be played from February 16, 2023.