Jackson’s century powers Saurashtra to Hazare title

Sheldon Jackson hit an unbeaten century to guide Saurashtra to their second Vijay Hazare Trophy title as they outclassed Maharashtra by five wickets in the one-day tournament final, at the Narendra Modi Stadium, in Ahmedabad, on Friday.

Saurashtra’s well-oiled bowling unit led by its skipper Jaydev Unadkat tamed a formidable batting line-up from Maharashtra before old domestic warhorse Jackson’s unbeaten century overshadowed national contender Ruturaj Gaikwad’s 108 to chase down a target of 249 with 21 balls to spare.

“I think the toss did play a crucial role, we were lagging behind. It was 30-70 percent of advantage/disadvantage. After 30-40 overs, we were ahead. Batting first, 250 was a very good total,” Gaikwad said after the match.

As Gaikwad rightly conceded, that toss did become one of the major deciding factors as Unadkat rightly put Maharashtra into bat.

At the onset, the left-arm pacer led the bowling show with an exemplary opening spell (6-1-5-0) in the Powerplay after electing to field as Gaikwad batted in a painstakingly slow fashion scoring 15 off the first 61 balls faced.

“(It is) unbelievable and yet to sink in. Winning one time is amazing but winning it second time proves that we are a champion side. Big game, big guys stepped up,” the champion skipper said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

While Unadkat (1/25 with 41 dot balls) was Saurashtra’s bowling hero in the first 10 overs, keeping the dangerous Gaikwad under tight leash, the last 10 overs of the Maharashtra innings belonged to all-rounder Chirag Jani. The seam bowling all-rounder’s 48th over hat-trick (Saurabh Nawale, Rajvardhan Hagargekar and Vicky Ostwal) did stop Maharashtra from adding at least 20 more runs.

Bowling wicket-to-wicket, Jani cleaned up Nawale and Hangargekar and then sealed his hat-trick, trapping Vicky Ostwal plumb in front.

In the middle overs, it was another Gaikwad show as he carved his name as a ‘Vijay Hazare legend’ with his 12th hundred (highest in competition history) with seven fours and four sixes. He thus had three hundreds in three knockout games but on a slowish track, Saurashtra bowlers never really let the Maharashtra batters dominate with second best score being Azim Kazi’s 31.

With Saurashtra bowlers making the perfect execution against him, Gaikwad clearly fought hard for his hundred that was evident with his roaring celebration when he notched his century off a boundary against Jani.

Chasing a below-par target, Saurashtra got off to a perfect start with Jackson and Harvik Desai (50) stitching a 125-run opening stand in 26.4 overs.

Mukesh Choudhary (2/38) revived Maharashtra with a double strike, dismissing Desai with a short ball and Jay Gohil (0) with angular one in a space of three balls while a third wicket — Samarth Vyas (12) perished in the deep of Ostwal’s bowling.

They lost half of their side in the 40th over after all-rounder Prerak Mankad was cleaned up by left-arm spinner Satyajeet Bachhav as the match was evenly poised with Saurashtra needing 57 in 10.1 overs.

However, Bacchav was taken apart by Jackson, who hit four out of his five sixes off the left-arm spinner’s bowling. India’s Under-19 World Cup hero Rajvardhan Hangargekar (0/70 in 9 overs) also got a fair amount of pasting.

Brief Scores: Maharashtra 248/9 in 50 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 108, Chirag Jani 3/43) vs Saurashtra 249/5 in 46.3 overs (Sheldon Jackson 133 not out).

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