Saurashtra and Services hammered Vidarbha and Kerala respectively in the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021-22 on Wednesday (December 22) and joined Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh in the semifinals. The batters from Vidarbha and Kerala struggled big time in the first innings while Saurashtra and Services had little trouble hunting down their respective targets.
Vidarbha could only manage 150 and Saurashtra hunted it down with seven wickets and more than 20 overs to spare. It was only because Apoorv Wankhade Vidarbha managed to touch the 150-run mark but Prerak Mankad and Arpit Vasavada put on an unbeaten stand of 116 to help their team make short work of the below-par target. Elsewhere, Kerala were dismissed for just 175, which Services chased down in 40.4 overs.
Services will now take on Himachal in the semifinals, while Saurashtra will come face to face against Tamil Nadu. Both games will be played in Jaipur on Friday (December 24).
Unadkat, Sakariya breathe fire with new ball
Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Unadkat was almost unplayable in his first spell. The surface at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium was always going to offer enough assistance to the seamers early in the morning and Unadkat had no hesitation in bowling first after winning the toss. The 30-year-old has been one of the best bowlers in the domestic circuit and displayed his class once again by constantly moving the ball both ways. The experienced left-arm seamer hit the right line and length from the word go and in-form Atharva Taide (1) and Ganesh Satish (1) inside seven overs.
Vidarbha’s leading run-getter this season, Taide was completely schooled by Unadkat. The paceman got a couple of balls to come back in and then got one to move away from a full length. The left-handed batter tried to flick it but closed the face of the bat early and ended up edging it to the wicketkeeper. Unadkat did the same to Satish, getting a couple of balls to move away with the angle and then getting one to nip back in and dismantle his off-stump.
He took 2/13 in his first six overs, while Chetan Sakariya was even more economical - 1/9. The young left-arm fast bowler didn’t bowl a lot on the stumps and was also slightly on the shorter side, allowing Faiz Fazal and other batters to leave those deliveries. However, Yash Rathod (1) tried to poke at one of those deliveries and ended up offering a simple to the second slip. Saurashtra needed to put early pressure on Vidarbha’s formidable batting line-up and that’s exactly what the two pacemen did in the first 12 overs.
Vidarbha continue to falter
Having lost three wickets in the first powerplay, Vidarbha needed a big partnership and Fazal and Akshay Wadkar tried to steady the ship. The Vidarbha skipper was beaten on numerous occasions and it took him 48 deliveries to hit his first boundary. Meanwhile, Wadkar tried to be a lot more positive and kept running down the track, trying to put some pressure on allrounders Chirag Jani (2/34) and Mankad (1/22).
The two batters put on 45 runs for the fourth wicket but before they could do any substantial damage, Wadkar (31-ball 18) dragged one of Mankad’s deliveries back onto the stumps. Meanwhile, Jani didn’t look in great rhythm in his first four overs, leaking 23 runs. However, like he has done so many times in the past, the tall seamer gave Saurashtra two big breakthroughs. Fazal (59-ball 23) was caught at the slip cordon while playing a needless drive, while Aditya Sarwate (22-ball 14) was undone by a short delivery. Dharmendrasinh Jadeja was introduced into the attack after 27 overs and the left-arm spinner trapped Lalit M Yadav (1) and Yash Thakur (naught) in front in his first over.
Wankhade takes the attack to spinners
Having been reduced to 86/8, Wankhade had to score as many runs as possible and that’s exactly what he did. The right-hander went after Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (2/34) and legspinner Yuvraj Chudasama (2/15) and smoked five sixes and as many fours in his 69-ball 72. Four of those five maximums came against Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, while Chudasama too was once tonked down the ground. Wankhade put on 64 runs with Akshay Wakhare (5) for the ninth wicket and propelled Vidarbha to a respectable total. Most of his boundaries came straight down the ground, as he forced Dharmendrasinh Jadeja out of the attack.It was Chudasama who sent him back to the hut, pinning him right in front of the stumps with a googly. He then knocked over Aditya Thakare in the same over, as Vidarbha were bowled out in 40.1 overs.
Mankad, Vasavada finish the job
Vidarbha pacer Aditya Thakare didn’t concede a single run in his first four overs and also got rid of Saurashtra openers Vishvaraj Jadeja (naught) and Harvik Desai (9) inside five overs. The young paceman bowled with great control and made full use of the new ball. The 23-year-old first trapped Vishvaraj Jadeja in front with a superb nip-backer and then had Desai caught at backward point. Sheldon Jackson (22-ball 15) tried to bat with positive intent and even managed to hit three boundaries before he was caught at mid-wicket off Yadav’s bowling.
Saurashtra needed one partnership to shut the door on Vidarbha and they got that from Mankad and Vasavada. After bowling four maidens on the trot, Thakare was smashed for two boundaries in an over by Mankad, before Vasavada slammed Yadav for three consecutive fours to bring some momentum into the innings. The two also didn’t allow left-arm spinner Sarwate to settle in and kept finding boundaries at regular intervals.
Mankad, who has been impressive with the bat and ball in this tournament, started slowly but picked up the pace once he got in. The 27-year-old completed his half-century off 58 deliveries and only left the field once the job was done. For Vidarbha, Yadav and Sarwate were taken to the cleaners, but at the end of the day, it was their batters who didn’t put enough runs on the board. Vasavada remained unbeaten on 41 off 66 deliveries, while Mankad smacked 10 fours and two maximums in his 72-ball 77*.
Samson and Co. fail to turn up
Right-arm paceman Diwesh Pathania (3/19) continued his good form with the ball as Services never allowed Kerala to take control of the game. It was Pathania who got rid of Mohammed Azharuddeen (7) and Jalaj Saxena (naught) in the seventh over to straightaway push Kerala on the back foot. Rohan Kunnummal (106-ball 85) and Vinoop Manoharan (54-ball 41) then put on 81 runs for the third wicket to steady the ship, but things went downhill once Manoharan fell to Pulkit Narang (2/51).
Kerala lost their last eight wickets for just 70 runs and were bundled out in 40.4 overs. The experienced middle-order trio of Sachin Baby (12), Sanju Samson (2) and Vishnu Vinod (4) hardly made any difference to the scorecard, but Kunnummal somehow managed to keep the scoreboard moving. The opener smashed seven fours and two sixes before he was run out in the 37th over. Samson, in particular, had a terrible tournament, scoring just 119 runs at an average of 19.83 in six encounters.
In reply, Services lost Lakhan Singh (4) and Mumtaz Qadir (4) to Unnikrishnan Manukrishnan but Ravi Chauhan and skipper Rajat Paliwal didn’t allow Kerala to dictate terms. The two added 154 runs for the third wicket and got the job done with utmost ease. Chauhan, in particular, blasted 13 fours and three sixes in his 90-ball 95 but missed out a well-deserved century. Meanwhile, Paliwal was slightly more sedate with his approach and scored 65 off 86 deliveries.