We are the Champions

Friday the 13th may be unlucky and forgetful for some, but for the people of Kathiavad, this day in the year of 2020 was no smaller or lesser than Deewali celebration and a day to cherish for life.

When Jaydev Unadkat, the captain of Saurashtra Ranji team lifted the coveted Trophy at 3:00 pm on the 5th and final day of keenly fought Ranji trophy final against Bengal team, it was a dream come true for entire region. Team members, former cricketers and the entire SCA family were in awe of the moment. Mr. Niranjan Shah, former Hon. Secretary of BCCI & SCA  while handing over the trophy to captain, said with moist eyes “You have given me the best gift of my life” shows what it means to the Man and the people of Saurashtra.

The Saurashtra cricket has taken giant steps in the world of cricket in last decade or so. Two of the main players of Indian cricket team i.e Cheteshwar Pujara, the new wall and the charismatic All Rounder  Ravindra Jadeja hail from this place. Unadkat, the pacer in absence of these two stalwarts has lead the team to new heights. Ravindra and Cheteshwar being on National duty most of the time the team Saurashtra always looked to prove a point that this team is a force with or without their stars.

Whenever a major tournament is won, there lies a lot of preparation, sacrifices and hard work. Losing three Ranji trophy finals in last 8 years also plays on the mind. However the team from the first game itself looked determined. As stated by Pujara after the finals “We, after losing the final last year were determined and prepared to work harder, make changes and win this trophy” shows the grit and will of the team. The process was set, routines were followed religiously and focus was unshakable. These were the ingredients the team was taking forward right from the heart breaking defeat in final last year.

Along the journey the team had some testing times in the middle. Losing to Uttar Pradesh by an innings mid way through the season was a time to reassess, regroup and reorganise. This is an essential part for any team or organisation to bounce back strong. Under Karsan Ghavari the man who has played Ranji trophy final 6 times and has coached team in finals for two times, Saurashtra team looked assured, relaxed and responsible. I had an opportunity to meet the team a day before the big final, and I could sense the team was flooding with confidence and there was no nerve or pressure of the big game.

The strength of “Teamwork and Leadership” has been exhibited by the group of these boys so very well. Jaydev has lead the team from front which is evident from the wicket tally shows against his name. But that’s not the full picture of the story; he motivated and encouraged each member of the team to put in their best in the middle. Enjoying success of each other, putting the hand up and do the job in crunch situation and “never say die” attitude has taken this team to the top. The decisive spell bowled by the captain in semi final and final will keep giving goose bumps to all the cricket loving people of this part of the world.

Following are some of the highlights and defining events which show why this team is champion:

  • The body language of the team exhibited the lions show on the field all the time.
  • Travelling like a happy unit, backing each other up and enjoying the challenge each and every day were the USP of this team.
  • Each member of the team knew what his role was and was more than ready and hungry to do his job. Ability to bounce back from any disastrous situation made a big difference.
  • Jaydev’s magical spells practically in every match of the season, capturing 67 wickets; especially turning points of Semi Final & Final in favour to his team when he claimed wickets of Parthiv Patel in Semi and Anustup Majumdar in Final.
  • Sheldon Jackson’s 809 runs in the series with scoring highest 186 runs, 3 Tons & 3 Half Tons stood very strong for his team.
  • Hundreds in semi final and final by Arpit Vasavada were the show case events of this season.
  • The return of Pujara in the final was a calming & confident effect on the team.
  • The mixture of youth and experience was a huge advantage. People like Jaydev Unadkat, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sheldon Jackson, Arpit Vasavada, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja& Kamlesh Makwana gave the much needed confidence to young players like Harvik Desai, Chetan Sakariya, Prerak Mankad, Vishvarajsinh Jadeja.
  • Chetan Sakariya out of nowhere was promoted to the batting order when team was struggling with the score of 15 for 5 wickets in semi final and he took the team through.
  • Match saving knock by two spinners of the team Dharmendra Jadeja and Kamlesh Makwana against Mumbai by playing away more than 40 overs, gave the impression that this team will never quit.
  • Two back to back hundreds just before the semi final by Chirag Jani gave team the extra punch. Jani and Prerak bowled crucial spells and took important wickets for the team in almost all the games.
  • The Wicket keeper Avi Barot in Final & Semi Final as well as Snell Patel in earlier stagefulfilled their important duties all the time being aggressive, encouragingand positive for their team throughout.

Jaydev Shah, the young dynamic President of SCA, having vast and valued Cricketing experience and intellect ensured that the team has top facilities & infrastructure and best preparation to go in to this tournament.  The administrative team of association has played a major role in standing besides this victorious team as well as for all the other teams like juniors or women’s teams.

A success story is built on the sound foundation of dedicated and devoted efforts of all the concerned and related people. The triumph of this team is not limited to efforts of the players on the field but also goes long way with the tireless efforts of support staff, selectors and administration. The coaching staff consisting Head Coach Karsan gahvri and Coach Niraj Odedara were sacrosanct in planning of all practice and training sessions. Team physio Dr Abhishek Thaker ensured that each and every player remain fresh and fit with ably distributed work load. Manager Mohansinh Jadeja was there to look after logistic need of the team. Nishant and Virendra’s tireless throw downs were of great utility to the victorious team.

Whoever has visited SCA stadium practice facility knows that it is unmatched in the world. Mr Mahendra Rajdev, Chief Curator of SCA and Mansukh Taraiya were there to see that all teams, be it home team or visiting teams get the best practice experience everytime they hit the nets. The hard working ground staff under them is an asset to SCA.

There was an interesting comment from Unadkat after winning the final. He said “I don’t want this journey to end here, we want to take it further and achieve more as a team”. This is a very strong statement by the skipper and it proves that this team is not going to seat back on its laurels and rest. Winning the Ranji trophy for the first time is indeed a matter of pride but repeating this feat would be very fulfilling and satisfying.

This Association has won earlier prestigious Vijay Hazare One Day Tournament Trophy and now most prestigious Ranji Trophy. Jaydev Shah in his speech to the team said that let next season all three important and notable trophies for Seniors, Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali be ours. 

Well done Boys we are so proud of you and your positive attitude.

  • By Prakash Bhatt (former captain and player of Saurashtra)