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A final of fluctuating fortunes 

Nagpur, February 4

Left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate scalped the prized wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara in a game-changing spell to put defending champions Vidarbha on top in the Ranji Trophy final against Saurashtra here today. Making amends for a depressing Sunday, the hosts made a remarkable recovery to first post a fighting 312 after resuming at a wobbly 200/7, and then reduce the visitors to 158/5 at stumps. Extracting significant turn and bounce from the pitch, Sarwate (3/55) and off-spinner Akshay Wakhare (2/42) blew away Saurashtra’s top half to seize the momentum. Saurashtra are still trailing by 154 runs, with their slim hopes of taking the first-innings lead resting heavily on opener Snell Patel, who’s unbeaten on 87.

Sarwate, Karnewar shine

On a day when star India players Pujara and Umesh Yadav were in action, Vidarbha’s Sarwate and Akshay Karnewar (73no) stood out with their splendid efforts. Pujara could score just 1 off 11 balls, while Yadav bowled 13 wicketless overs, though he did intimidate the Saurashtra batsmen with his pace and bounce. Sarwate did a huge favour to his side by dismissing Pujara early, while Karnewar led their fightback with a dogged knock down the order. The southpaw struck his second First Class half-century and added 78 runs for the eighth wicket with Wakhare (34) as Vidarbha added 112 runs to their overnight total. 

Spin twins

Vidarbha handed the ball to Sarwate as early as in the third over, and the move paid off immediately as he dismissed Harvik Desai (10) with his third ball. Patel, the other opener, rotated the strike well, and struck occasional boundaries as well. All eyes were on India pacer Yadav but he hardly troubled the batsmen in his first five-over spell. A few minutes before tea, Sarwate struck again, this time trapping Vishwarajsinh Jadeja plumb for a painstaking 18. 

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