In the past decade or so, Saurashtra have emerged as the most consistent team in Ranji Trophy having made the finals of India’s premier red-ball competition five times, the most by any team between 2012-13 and 2022-23 seasons. Twice they have emerged victorious having beaten Bengal both the times including one played earlier this month at the Eden Gardens.
So what has worked?
“This is the recipe for our success,” says Saurashtra allrounder Chirag Jani while explaining how maintaining a core group of players for five-six years has worked for the unit during an an exclusive chat with News18 CricketNext.
“We have had same set of players for quite some time now and have built our core. That’s why we have been getting good results. Moreover, everyone has been making the contribution. It’s not that only one or two players have performed but the whole unit has chipped in,” Jani said.
“Another factor that has worked for us is that we have a lot of all-rounders and we bat deep. The team atmosphere is good and we enjoy each other’s company. Yahi nuska hai humari success ka (This is the formula of our success),” he added.
Jani says the team removes any added pressure by treating a knockout game as any other. “When we play final or semi-final, we take it as just another cricket match and don’t put ourselves under any kind of pressure. That’s our process. In fact, before the final against Bengal this time, we had this discussion that we won’t put ourselves under any pressure and take it as just another game,” he says.
The vastly experienced Jaydev Unadkat had returned to Saurashtra camp for the final against Bengal after he was released by the Indian team ahead of the second Test against Australia.
Quizzed about the left-handed pacer’s role in Saurashtra’s winning triumph, Jani lavished praise on his captain, adding that he has been bowling at a different level.
“Unadkat and the association had a chat with BCCI after we qualified for the final. The board eventually permitted him to feature in the title clash. He is bowling at a different level at the moment and is in brilliant form. In fact, he was the Player of the match in the final also,” Jani noted.
The all-rounder also praised Parth Bhut and his contribution against the Punjab side after the right-handed batter scored a hundred in the first innings and followed it with a fifty in the second to bail the side out of a tricky situation.
“Parth Bhut’s hundred was a vital one for us. If he hadn’t scored that, we might have bowed out of the tournament. So, it has also been about performing as a team” he said.
Jani has himself contributed with the bat on a number of occasions and he scored a half-century during the first innings in the final of the Ranji Trophy.
Asked about the same, the right-hander said that he enjoys playing in crunch situations.
“Look, I have been playing at this level for 10 years now. So, I have that experience and play according to the situation. Basically, I enjoy when I perform under pressure situation. I don’t let crunch situation take an upper hand,” he said.
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