Series levelled, expectations matched
There is a famous duha in Gujarati folk music of this region which says:
“Kathiavad ma kok di bhulo pad bhagvan, tha ne amaro mehman, tara eva karavu samman ke tane swarg bhulavu shamala”
Basically it is an invitation to Lord Krishna to come to this place and enjoy the hospitality of Kathiavad (Saurahstra), it is further claimed in this duha that you would forget the pleasures of haven once you have had the taste of loving and warm hospitality offered here to its guests. The gods of modern times and the most loved ‘Indian cricket team’ was in Rajkot for second one day international against Australia. Both teams were equally greeted and welcomed with love and affection. All the arrangements were ensured to be at its best and nothing was left to chance by the hard working team of SCA under the leadership of young and energetic President Jaydev Shah.
Being in unknown territory of 0-1 down in the series, Indian team was expected to bounce back and play hard cricket against formidable Australian side. The cricket loving people of Saurashtra are quite knowledgeable & enthusiastic about this game. They knew it is going to be a cracker of a game and they came in big numbers to witness this contest. SCA stadium - Rajkot was houseful hours before the game began. Australia again won the toss and opted to bowl first on a decent and ideal one day pitch. The history suggests that the pitch for one day international games at Rajkot is always conducive for stroke play and therefore full “paisa wasool” batting performance was on the cards.
Team India after a decent start lost Rohit Sharma when score was reading as 81 for 1 in 14th over. Then came the king Kohli and along with Shikar Dhavan, he added more than 100 runs in less than 15 overs. India was set for a huge total, however around 43-44 overs mark, they lost 2 quick wickets and was in a spot of bother. But Lokesh Rahul held on to one end and with Kathiavadi Bapu Ravindra Jadeja he added crucial 58 runs in little less than last 6 overs. The roar of crowd to welcome local Hero Ravindra is something to be remembered for a long time.
340 was going to be a tough target for Australians, especially with sports loving spectators of Gujarat getting behind team India on every saved run and every taken wicket. Spectacular catch by Manish Pandey early in the inning to send Warner back in the pavilion set the tone for Indian attack. However Steve Smith played a fantastic knock and kept his team in hunt as long as he was there. In the end the 340 score proved to be a bit too good for them to chase. All Indian bowlers stuck their task and executed their plans to perfection. Jadeja and Kuldeep did their job to precision in the middle overs. They not only took 2 wickets each but also kept run rate down. Two wickets in two balls by Shami in 44th over sealed the deal for team India. 50th over was bowled by Boom boom Bumrah who conceded only 30 odd runs in his effective and engrossing spell. He took the last wicket of first ball of that over and the stadium lit up with joy, cheers and crackers. India had won and was back in the series firm and strong.
Both teams, Team India and Team Australia have had all praises for the Stadium, its facilities and infrastructure. Also, in his commentary during the match, Legendary Sunil Gavaskar rightly rated the Stadium 9.9/10 for its facilities, net practice areas, cleanliness, pitches, outfield and hospitality. Thank you Sunilji for your valued appreciation.
Indeed it proved to be the show of real exciting game of cricket. One could not have asked for more from this chilly evening in Rajkot. Each one in the stadium enjoyed the game thoroughly and lived every moment of its proceedings. There were smiles all around when people were leaving the stadium after the game and rightly so because they had that gala time they wanted from this game. After the game, a video of dance by the ladies ground staff of SCA stadium went viral on social media where one could see the joy and contentment of an accomplished task by proud workers. This video says everything about this place- the honour, pride and will to serve.
Liaison team and Ground Team of Saurashtra Cricket Association.. main backbone and strength of SCA to host matches successfully. Their constributions are indeed very valuable. They render their services selflessly, enthusiastically and with great teamwork. SCA thank everyone whose hard work and dedication made this ODI, like all other matches played in Rajkot, very successful and memorable.
Hon’ble Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Vijaybhai Rupani’s august presence added enthusiasm of the match. He, in presentation ceremony, presented mementos by Saurashtra Cricket Association to Captains of both teams, Virat Kohli & Aaron Finch
Under the guidance of Shri Niranjan Shah- former secretary BCCI and SCA, this region has conducted many international games with great success. This time around it was no different. It was indeed matter of pride for everyone in Saurashtra Cricket Association at the midnight of 17th January, as the Association successfully not only held the event very well but also maintained the legacy of conducting it to international standards. It was once again proved why SCA is, what it is and where it is. Another feather in the cap of each one of us associated with this great organisation named SCA.
By- Prakash Bhatt (Former captain and player of Saurashtra Ranji trophy team)