WICKET! Bengal have struck and the new man Sakariya is dismissed by Akash Deep, who catches the edge and Saha behind the stumps makes no mistakes. Saurashtra are 206/5, and that is Stumps on Day 1
Vasavada and Sakariya continue to battle it out here for Saurashtra. The second new ball is due soon and Saurashtra are 204/4. Bengal with their pacers back in the attack are looking for another wicket.
Pujara's not feeling too good from the looks of it and has called the doctor out a couple of times. He's retiring hurt for the time being. Hopefully it isn't a major concern.
Saurashtra with Pujara and Vasavada in the middle are looking to slow things down eliminate any risks in their game. Bengal on the other hand with Mukesh and Ishan are looking for a fifth wicket before Stumps. Saurashtra are 193/4.
WICKET! Sheldon Jackson is gone, lbw to Ishan Porel. Pitched on length and skidded back in, he was caught on the backfoot and hit right in front. Saurashtra 182/4. Cheteshwar Pujara finally comes into the middle.
No Pujara still. Sheldon Jackson has come out with an attacking approach. He has already got 14 off 7, with three boundaries.Saurashtra 181/3.
WICKET! Beautiful ball frmo Akash Deep gets Jadeja. Full ball, pitches outside off and moves in past Jadeja's drive to hit the stumps. Saurashtra 163/3, Jadeja gone for 54.
FIFTY for Arpit Vasavada in the first over after tea. He has been fairly quick, ensuring Saurashtra keep the momentum.Shahbaz Ahmed and Mukesh Kumar with the ball.
Saurashtra picked up the scoring rate in the final hour of the post lunch session and despite losing their openers have kept Bengal's bowlers well at bay. Jadeja and Vasavada make good progress, with Jadeja nearing a half century to as players take Tea. Saurashtra are 155/2 with the final session to come on the first day.
Jadeja at his end is looking to up the scoring rate for Saurashtra and has smashed Shahbaz for three consecutive boundaries. That makes it four boundaries in the last 7 deliveries for them.
Vasavada and Jadeja are starting to slowly build again after they lost their openers and are going along at cautious pace. Vasavada has found the fence with a classic cover drive after quite a while against Ishan Porel. Saurashtra with Pujara still to bat are 129/2 after 57 overs.
WICKET! Akash Deep gets Barot caught behind. Barot pokes and gets a small nick. Barot reviews the decision but it stays out. Barot gone for 54. Saurashtra 113 for 2, Pujara yet to walk in. It's Arpit Vasavada.
Barot gets to his half-century, off 128 balls, with a sweep to the boundary off Shahbaz. Good knock this, has to make it bigger.
BENGAL REVIEW! Vishvaraj Jadeja the batsman. Not out the umpire's call and the final decision. Jadeja looks to sweep, the ball pops off the forearm to silly point. Saurashtra 92/1.
WICKET! Shahbaz Ahmed gives the breakthrough. Harvik Desai is out caught silly point. Shahbaz gets it to spin from leg stump line, Desai defends uppishly and Abhishek Raman holds on to a sharp chance. Saurashtra 82/1.
That's the end of the session - Saurashtra have the perfect session going into the break at 77 for no loss. Harvik Desai and Avi Barot have been spotless, showing patience and discipline. The pitch is flat and they should look to make it big in the upcoming sessions.
Shahbaz is bowling from over the stumps and targeting the rough outside the batsman's leg stump. He's getting some turn and bounce from there too. Batsmen cautious as they approach lunch
Ishan Porel has come back for a second spell, but the breakthrough is still elusive. Saurashtra doing this easily, 72 for no loss.
Tough chance goes down at slip. Akash Deep unlucky, Harvik Desai gets a boundary and a life. Got the edge, but it flies low to the left of slip. Abhimanyu Easwaran gets his finger on it but can't hold on.
Pacer Akash Deep and spinner Shahbaz Ahmed operating in tandem. Saurashtra going slow but steady.
50 up for Saurashtra in 17 overs. The pitch is flat and good for batting, so tough work ahead for Bengal.
39 for no loss in 14 overs. Saurashtra openers have been patient and steady. Bengal still searching for the breakthrough. Shahbaz and Mukesh Kumar bowling in tandem.
Nothing much from the pitch for the pacers, so Bengal turn to left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed already. He has bowled 2 overs within the first 10, Saurashtra 31/0.
Harvik Desai and Avi Barit have been disciplined in defence, but not missed out on boundary opportunities. Anything straight has been flicked away for boundaries, with each batsman having two fours. 23 for no loss.
Good little start for Saurashtra here. 17 for no loss. Ishan Porel and Mukesh Kumar are not getting much movement in the air or off the seam.
Two overs in, the ball is skidding on and keeping slightly low. Saurashtra 4 for no loss.
Pitch report: The wicket has a few cracks and not much grass, but it's expected to be a good one for batting. The pacers might get assistance initially. The spinners will come into play in the latter half of the match. Looks like a typical Indian wicket.
Welcome to the coverage of the Ranji Trophy final between Saurashtra and Bengal from Rajkot. Saurashtra have opted to bat first upon winning the toss, which means Cheteshwar Pujara will be in action soon. Bengal too have been strengthened by the return of Wriddhiman Saha. The two teams have been in superb run this season; Saurashtra defeated Gujarat in their semifinal while Bengal got the better of a strong Karnataka side. Expect a cracker of a contest.
Latest Updates: WICKET! Bengal have struck and the new man Sakariya is dismissed by Akash Deep, who catches the edge and Saha behind the stumps makes no mistakes. Saurashtra are 206/5, and that is Stumps on Day 1
Saurashtra, led by inspirational Jaydev Unadkat, will back themselves to win an elusive Ranji Trophy title at home but a buoyant Bengal will be no pushovers in what promises to be an absorbing final beginning here on Monday.
Both the teams are desperate to go all the way with Saurashtra reaching their fourth final in eight seasons while Bengal has not tasted success in the premier domestic event since the 1989-90 triumph.
While Bengal bulldozed over the mighty Karnataka in the semifinals, Saurashtra edged out Gujarat in a see-saw contest at the SCA Stadium, which is also the venue for the final.
There will also be star power on display with Test regulars Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha joining the Saurashtra and Bengal squads respectively, having returned from New Zealand.
In fact, Pujara was very much Saurasthra’s 12th man with Unadkat being in constant touch with his senior teammate during the hard-fought semifinal. Now his physical presence in the all-important game will be a big boost to the side.
Saurashtra would not have ended up on the right side of the result against Gujarat if it wasn’t for Unadkat, who has had a sensational run this season with 65 wickets at an average of 12.17 and is three shy of the all-time record of 68 scalps, set by Bihar spinner Ashutosh Aman last season.
The left-arm pacer single-handedly led his team on day five earlier this week with a seven-wicket haul on a flat surface, including the scalps of a set Parthiv Patel and Chiragh Gandhi, who had brought Gujarat back in the game from a hopeless 63 for five while chasing 327.
Unadkat’s stellar performances over the course of the season has put him back in national reckoning but in his own words, they would count for little if the team doesn’t go all the way.
Not just with the ball, he also inspired with his captaincy and one example of that was when he promoted number 11 Chetan Sakariya, who shared a crucial 90-run stand with Arpit Vasavada (139) after the hosts collapsed to 15 for five.
The skipper is leading from the front but will expect more from his fellow pacers who have not done much to write about this season.
Besides Pujara, the team’s leading run-getter Sheldon Jackson will be expected to shoulder the batting responsibilities.
Saurashtra will be wary of Bengal’s potent pace attack which fashioned their comprehensive win over eight-time champions Karnataka.
The pace trio of Ishan Porel, Mukesh Kumar and Akash Deep were on fire in the semifinal and has contributed significantly to the team’s overall success.
Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed has come of age this season and is the team’s joint highest wicket-taker with 30 scalps alongside Kumar and Akash Deep.
The onus in the batting department lies on veteran Manoj Tiwary, who has been the team’s leading run-getter with 672 runs from 10 games but has not fired after his couple of match-winning half-centuries on a challenging track in Patiala.
The role of head coach Arun Lal also cannot be overlooked in Bengal’s first final appearance after 13 years.
Teams (from): Saurashtra: Cheteshwar Pujara, Jaydev Unadkat (c), Chirag Jani, Kamlesh Makvana, Sheldon Jackson, Arpit Vasavada, Kushang Patel, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Avi Barot , Divyaraj Chauhan, Snell Patel, Vandit Jivrajani, Samarth Vyas, Prerak Mankad, Jay Chauhan, Harvik Desai (wk), Kishan Parmar, Vishvaraj Jadeja, Chetan Sakariya, Parth Bhut.
Bengal: Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha, Ashok Dinda, Shreevats Goswami, Anustup Majumdar, Arnab Nandi, Sudip Chatterjee, Abhimanyu Easwaran (c), Writtick Chatterjee, Koushik Ghosh, Mukesh Kumar, Sayan Ghosh, Ishan Porel, Nilkantha Das, Agniv Pan, Ayan Bhattacharjee, Abhishek Raman, Boddupalli Amit, Ritwik Chowdhury, Prayas Barman, Shahbaz Ahmed, Karan Lal, Akash Deep, Shreyan Chakraborty, Kazi Saifi, Ramesh Prasad.