Jaydev Unadkat and Prerak Mankad stood up when it mattered the most as Saurashtra defeated Karnataka by five wickets to confirm their spot in the grand finale. The left-arm seamer claimed 4/26 as Karnataka were bundled out for 171 in 49.1 overs. Mankad (2/34) too got a couple of crucial wickets before playing a cameo with the bat to ensure Saurashtra got over the line after they lost their openers inside two overs.
Asked to bat, Mayank Agarwal (1) and Sharath BR (3) fell to Unadkat inside powerplay before Mankad got rid of in-form Nikin Jose (12) and Manish Pandey (nought). Shreyas Gopal (31-ball 9) too didn’t contribute much as Karnataka were reduced to 81/5 before R Samarth and Manoj Bhandage (27-ball 22) put on 40 runs for the sixth wicket. Samarth, who scored 71 in the quarter-final against Punjab, crafted 88 off 135 deliveries and was the eighth wicket to fall.
In response, Saurashtra lost their openers Harvik Desai and Sheldon Jackson without any run on the board but that’s when Jay Gohil (82-ball 61) and Samarth Vyas (55-ball 33) added 75 runs to ensure there was no major collapse. Mankad (32-ball 35) too played a crucial cameo before Arpit Vasavada (25*) and Chirag Jani (13*) got Saurashtra over the line with more than 13 overs to spare. This is only the third time Saurashtra have managed to make it through to the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
The Assam batting unit once again put on quite a show, that too without Riyan Parag contributing much, but couldn’t replicate what they did against Jammu and Kashmir in the quarter-finals. Assam were once again set a target of 351 but fell just 12 runs short of what would have been yet another spectacular chase. However, Ruturaj Gaikwad (126-ball 168) and Rajvardhan Hangargekar (4/65) continued to shine and propelled Maharashtra to their maiden Vijay Hazare Trophy final.
Gaikwad, who smashed a double century in the previous game against Uttar Pradesh, was once again at his brutal best and smoked 18 fours and six maximums during his stay in the middle. This was Gaikwad’s seventh century in his last nine Vijay Hazare Trophy innings. He didn’t get much support against UP, but in this match, Ankit Bawne stepped up and smashed 110 off 89. The two put on 207 runs for the third wicket and slammed everyone around the park. For Assam, Mukhtar Hussain (3/42) and Rajjakuddin Ahmed (1/57) were the only ones to concede less than seven runs per over.
After what they did against Jammu and Kashmir, Assam would have been confident of once again hunting down a massive total but lost Kunal Saikia (10), Rahul Hazarika (5) and in-form Parag (11-ball 15) inside 15 overs. It looked like Maharashtra would easily win the game but the likes of Rishav Das (49-ball 53), Sibsankar Roy (63-ball 78) and Swarupam Purkayastha (87-ball 95) refused to throw in the towel. Hangargekar, however, made sure that Assam kept losing wickets at regular intervals and that led to their downfall. Hangargekar's fourth and final victim was Purkayastha, who missed out on his hundred by just five runs, and his departure put an end to Assam's astonishing campaign.