Vijay Hazare Trophy 2022-23 Final, Maharashtra vs Saurashtra: Ruturaj Gaikwad's 108, Chirag Jani's hat-trick and Sheldon Jackson's 133* are top performances as Saurashtra beat Maharashtra and win 2nd List A title.
Brief Scores: Saurashtra 249/5 (Jackson 133*, Desai 50, Ostwal 2/20) beat Maharashtra 248/9 (Gaikwad 108, Kazi 37, Jani 3/43) by 5 wickets
Player of the Match: Sheldon Jackson - 133* (136)
Player of the Tournament: Ruturaj Gaikwad (660 runs in five innings)
After four rounds of games among thirty-eight domestic sides for over three weeks, the Vijay Hazare Trophy (VHT) 2022-23 found its two finalists - Saurashtra and Maharashtra. The former who came into the final with their comfortable semi-final victory over Karnataka, locked horns with Maharashtra who got the better of Assam in a high scoring game. The final of the tournament was played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Friday.
For Maharashtra, Ankit Bawne (571 runs in eight innings prior to the final) and their captain Ruturaj Gaikwad (552 runs in four innings prior to the final) and were in supreme form being the third and fourth highest run-getters of the tournament, respectively, while for Saurashtra, their leader Jaydev Unadkat, the second highest wicket-taker of the competition, was in great touch with 17 wickets in nine games.
Saurashtra display all-round performance while Maharashtra miss few vital players
Saurashtra were outstanding during the whole course of the game; beginning with the new ball, they were on the money and never let the opponents score freely, and their terrific fielding kept Maharashtra under pressure in a relentless manner. Their batting led by Sheldon Jackson backed their bowling effort, and led them to victory in the final analysis.
On the flipside of the coin, Maharashtra missed a few vital players with injury concerns. The in-form Rahul Tripathi missed the game due to being with the national squad in Bangladesh.
Centurion Jackson made disciplined Saurashtra VHT champions for the second time
Saurashtra captain Jaydev Unadkat on winning the toss opted to bowl first with an aim to extract some help from an early morning start. Maharashtra were forced to make three changes - Samshuzama Kazi, Kaushal Tambe and Rahul Tripathi were left out, as Pavan Shah, Vicky Ostwal and Naushad Shaikh were added to the squad. Saurashtra were unchanged from their last game.
Saurashtra put early pressure on Maharashtra, keeping them to just 18/1 in the first 10 overs before their in-form captain Ruturaj Gaikwad helped them reach 75/2 at the halfway mark. Gaikwad kept his form going as he notched up his fourth hundred of the season to take Maharashtra to 179/3 in 40 overs. Some wild knocks at the end powered them to 248/9 in their allotted 50 overs.
Chasing 249, both Saurashtra openers - Harvik Desai and Sheldon Jackson - began brilliantly with a 125-run stand in 26 overs, before Maharashtra made a mini comeback to reduce the opponents to 192/5 in 40 overs. Even though wickets were falling from one end, Sheldon Jackson with his outstanding 133* carried Saurashtra to their second Vijay Hazare Trophy since the 2007-08 season.
Let’s scan the top three performances from the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2022-23 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
In-form Gaikwad carries form with 108 in the final
Maharashtra opener Ruturaj Gaikwad has been one of the reasons behind the golden season of his side, as he consistently offered good starts.
Put into bat first, Saurashtra bowled disciplined line and length, as in-form opener Gaikwad too was finding it tough to score runs as the right-hand batter was only at 10* in 45 balls before he managed his first boundary of the final in the 17th over when he swept Dharmendrasinh Jadeja over deep backward square leg for a boundary. He backed it up with a huge six that was pulled over deep backward square leg against Kushang Patel.
Gaikwad then nailed another sweep for a boundary against Jadeja backward of square to celebrate his fifty in 96 deliveries. Deciding to change his gear, Gaikwad punched Patel past the diving mid-on for a boundary, before using his feet to push Jadeja down the ground for a boundary. He cracked two more boundaries against the same bowler bisecting the backward point and short fine fielders.
He cracked a huge six lofted through the line and sending Prerak Mankad over the rope, before depositing his fourth century of the season with another six that was creamed over deep mid-wicket. He also managed a 94-run stand with Azim Kazi for the fourth wicket.
Unfortunately, Gaikwad was dismissed run out on 108 in 131 balls with the help of seven boundaries and four maximums. Ruturaj Gaikwad now has 4034 List A runs in 72 games and he finished VHT 2022-23 with 660 runs in five innings at a strike rate of 113.59 and average of 220, including four centuries.
Chirag Jani’s all-round show of 3/43 and 30* shocked Maharashtra
Saurashtra bowlers exerted relentless pressure over the Maharashtra batters throughout the course of the first innings. Chirag Jani, even before coming into the attack, had already made an impression with his fielding as with a direct hit he sent back opponent opener Pavan Shah on 4. When he was installed in the eighth over, he had a maiden to his name straightaway. He bowled his first spell of five overs with so much rhythm giving away just 12 runs.
Jani bowled with lot more heart through his spell as he had 0/41 in his nine overs, before reaping rich rewards in his last over. Coming into the 49th over of the innings to finish his quota, Jani on his first ball got the better of Saurabh Navale on 13 who was undone by a fantastic yorker.
With his very next ball, Jani collected the wicket of Rajvardhan Hangargekar (0) who too was late to put his bat down against a perfect yorker. Jani managed to earn a well-deserved hat-trick, as he trapped the young Vicky Ostwal bang in front of the stumps with a ball that rapped the latter low on his pads.
Chirag Jani returned figures of 3/43 in his 10 overs where with those three wickets at the backend, Jani slowed down Maharashtra. Jani now has 99 List A wickets in 97 games at an economy of 5.02.
Coming late in the chase, he scored a valuable 30* in 25 balls with three boundaries in an unbeaten 57-run stand with Jackson to take his team over the line.
Centurion Sheldon Jackson carries Saurashtra over the line with 133*
Chasing 249 to lift the trophy, Saurashtra hoped for a positive start and their opener Sheldon Jackson found the final game to showcase his skills before the whole world.
At the start of the chase, Jackson decided to take his own time in the middle gauging the pace of the track as he was on 4 off 18 balls when he nailed his first boundary which was played uppishly through the pocket at the cover region. He then rocked back and punished Hangargekar for another boundary over square leg, before slashing the same bowler for the same result through the point region.
Jackson took on Manoj Ingale as he picked up two boundaries in the space of three balls against the bowler - the first one was cut off the backfoot, while the second one was driven through covers. When Satyajeet Bachhav was introduced into the attack, Jackson cracked two sixes against him in the long-on region before raising his bat to acknowledge his fifty in 66 balls.
Even when he wasn’t getting the boundaries, he was rotating the strike. He sliced Ingale for another boundary through backward point besides cracking two more sixes against Bachhav, both sailed over the head of the bowler as Jackson recorded his 14th List A century in just 116 balls. With wickets falling from the other end, he kept Saurashtra in the chase with his fabulous batting performance.
Jackson stayed till the end to carry Saurashtra over the line with his unbeaten 133 runs in 136 balls with the help of 12 boundaries and five sixes. He now has 2643 List A runs in 77 games.
Ruturaj Gaikwad (Maharashtra captain and Player of the Tournament): The toss did play a huge factor as we were behind the game; it was a 70-30 advantage with the toss but credit to Saurashtra bowlers. Still, 248 was a good score on this surface and I’m proud at the way my men played today and all through the season. We have a young team and hopefully they will learn from this.
It was important for me to get back to form after the injury break. Had to deliver being a senior and looked to give good starts and convert them to hundreds. Had to make sure that I stay calm and just tried to become as consistent as possible.
Sheldon Jackson (Player of the Final): Grateful to get back to form at the right time but credit to the entire team and management for backing me all season. Yes, experience counts but what’s the point if you are not scoring runs. The plan was not to lose wickets upfront.
Jaydev Unadkat (Saurashtra captain): Yet to sink in that we are the champions. It feels good but to do it the second time around shows that we are a champion side and we have got people who have stood up at different times. Special mention to Sheldon; he batted well and Chirag too - he is someone who deserves to play at the highest level. Credit to Rutu for the way he batted. Winning a domestic trophy is never easy and I know that being here for a decade.
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What’s to Come
With the end of the two white ball domestic tournaments, the focus will now shift towards the red ball season of India’s domestic cricket. The Ranji Trophy 2022-23 will begin from December 13 where the first-class players will try to put their names before the Indian selectors who will eagerly observe the competition, before they announce India’s squad for the upcoming home Australia series.