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Jani and Jackson star as Saurashtra wins Vijay Hazare Trophy

Saurashtra 249 for 5 (Jackson 133*, Desai 50, Jani 30*, Ostwal 2-20, Choudhary 2-38) Maharashtra 248 for 9 (Gaikwad 108, Kazi 37, Shaikh 31*, Jani 3-43) with five wickets

It was a memorable day for Sheldon Jackson, who came out with a fine 133 to lead Saurashtra past Maharashtra’s 248 to their second Vijay Hazare Trophy title in the final in Ahmedabad. Chirag Jani was the other star for Saurashtra as he first picked up a hat-trick on the run back from 3 for 43 and then hit a calm 25-ball 30 to be alongside Jackson as they reached the finish line.
That was after Ruturaj Gaikwad reached his fourth century in five matches in the tournament to help Maharashtra post 248 for 9. After a slow start, the Maharashtra captain finished with 108 off 131 balls, hitting seven fours and four sixes.
Harvik Desai and Jackson chased 249 and started cautiously, while Mukesh Choudhary and Manoj Ingale started with maiden overs. Jackson, who didn’t have a particularly productive run leading up to the final, had 3 off 18 balls before an air chip past mid-off gave him his first four. He then enjoyed Rajvardhan Hangargekar’s short and wide deliveries, hitting him for three fours through the arc between back point and cover over his first two overs.

Satyajeet Bachhav’s third over really got the best out of Jackson, who charged down to hit the left arm spinner straight overhead on successive balls, before a misfield on sweeper coverage gave him another boundary. He completed his half-century with 66 balls and Desai followed him by getting there with 61 balls.

Saurashtra commanded on 125 for no loss as Choudhary hit twice in three balls to send off Desai and Jay Gohil and turn the game around. Vicky Ostwal then came into action as he hushed the batters and finished 2 for 20 in his ten overs.

But with Jackson reaching a 116-ball century and sewing a 36-ball, 42-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Vasavada, Saurashtra managed to keep their noses in front.

Ostwal sent Vasavada back for his second wicket, and Bachhav relieved Prerak Mankad immediately afterwards, and when Jani joined Jackson in the centre, Saurashtra was still 57 adrift. But the pair pressed Maharashtra again and knocked off the needed runs with 21 balls to spare. Fittingly, it was Jackson who hit a six and a four to get the job done.

In spirited conditions in the morning, Jaydev Unadkat and Kushang Patel held off the Maharashtra openers – Gaikwad and Pavan Shah couldn’t find the boundaries, but also found it difficult to hit. It led to Pavan attempting a risky single after throwing Unadkat to midwicket only to run out thanks to a direct hit from Jani.

The battle of the morning was between Unadkat and Gaikwad, both experienced players who fought inch by inch without giving a damn. After a period of four overs, Unadkat changed ends, thinking he was trailing Gaikwad, but the umpire was unmoved. He gave away just one point in the two overs after switching ends and after his first two spells his numbers were 6-1-5-0. This also involved a vicious bouncer who hit Bachhav on the helmet.

Gaikwad, meanwhile, struggled to get going as Maharashtra crept to 18 for 1 at the ten-over. He had 10 off 45 balls before hitting the first four – a sweep over back square leg from Dharmendrasinh Jadeja. A few overs later he drew fast bowler Kushang over square leg.

After a 66-run second wicket partnership, Gaikwad combined to add 94 for the fourth wicket with Azim Kazi. It was a stage of the game where Maharashtra increased their score significantly. Gaikwad, who raised his half-century with 96 balls – his slowest this season – picked up just 29 balls for his next fifty runs and reached his century with 125 balls.

He took on Jadeja in the process, repeatedly hitting the left arm spinner offside. He scored his third century in a row with back-to-back sixes off Jani before a run-out tamely ended his knockout. Maharashtra couldn’t accelerate much after that, and Jani’s hat-trick – Saurabh Nawale, Hangargekar and Ostwal being victims – on the penultimate round saw them retire well below a par score.

The win cemented Unadkat’s credentials as a captain; he had guided Saurashtra to their first Ranji Trophy title in 2019-2020. He also topped the wicket charts in the Vijay Hazare Trophy with 19 strikes to his credit.

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Merry

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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