Emotional scenes emerged after Saurashtra defeated Maharashtra in the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy this week. Captain Jaydev Unadkat was down on his knees and drenched in the moment before walking into the presentation ceremony, where he applauded the opposition and then his teammates for their bravery with both bat and ball.
The moment the trophy was handed over to the lanky pacer, he pointed to the stands and asked family members of teammates to join in the celebrations. This is a rare sight in the domestic circuit. It was after Unadkat’s insistence that the association agreed to the arrangement and most of the family members have been with the team since the quarter-stage of India’s premier List A tournament.
“Jaidev has initiated it and the association has supported it. All the players have now started walking with their families. Not just for knockouts, but if the window permits, he also turns up in league games. The knockouts were in Gujarat so most families could attend early as it was close to home,” Saurashtra batsman Arpit Vasavada revealed in an exclusive chat News18 Cricket Next,
‘Heart-warming to see Avi Barot’s family on the field’
There were also two special attendants in the stand. Wife and daughter of late Saurashtra cricketer AV Barot who passed away in October 2021 due to a heart attack. The dashing batsman was just 29 years old and his wife was expecting their first child. The entire Saurashtra camp was moved by his presence and prepared to win the title in the presence of his late teammate’s family.
“I will not be able to express it in words… Me and Avi were in the same department and played together a lot in CAG. We have also played a lot of cricket together for CAG and Saurashtra. When we won the trophy, it was very emotional to see my wife and daughter in the stands. Avi was full of life… very alive. He used to keep the atmosphere very light. He spoke a lot, talked a lot and kept everything light and high. We feel his aura with us even today. We can feel his presence with us even today. It was very touching to see his wife and daughter supporting us from the stands,” says Arpit.
Saurashtra is more than a cricket team. It’s a well-oiled unit, like a big family that lives together, hunts together and in their case dominates the domestic circuit together. In the last decade, he has been doing well in red-ball cricket and has now managed to turn a body around in the white-ball format.
“I have been playing for Saurashtra for a long time. We played the Ranji final for the first time in 2012-13 season against Mumbai. Since then, we have played a total of four Ranji Trophy finals, two Vijay Hazare Trophy finals and managed to win Vijay Hazare this time. I’ve seen that change in culture. We have grown from an average team to a premier team,” Arpit said.
clarity and security
A quick glance at Saurashtra’s teamsheets for both this year’s Vijay Hazare Trophy final (vs Maharashtra) and the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy final (vs Bengal), and you see very few new names. The Unadkat-led unit won the title on both the occasions and hinged on the same set of individuals.
“We are a pretty established unit now. All the players have been playing together for a long time. They are well settled in the team. One thing is that the players have security… They don’t know their position or role or name in the team. Are not insecure about. The place is cemented. Once that happens, the mindset shifts to the team’s cause and purpose.
“Nobody plays for himself, everybody wants to do well for the whole team and contribute for the team. Everyone has a specific role to play and everyone plays it well. No coach or captain would describe the role anymore as everyone knows it. We are very clear about what the team wants from us in a particular situation. So we are doing well,” says Arpit, who has been a part of the Saurashtra setup for over a decade.
Arpit, who has played 67 first-class games for Saurashtra, is the troubleshooter for the side. Four of his eight centuries at FC level came in the 2019-20 Ranji season, which Saurashtra completely dominated. Arpit scored 763 runs in that season at an average of 54.50.
“All the knocks that year were very special, especially the semi-finals and the final. I would especially like to mention the semi-final against Gujarat. The team was under a lot of pressure and I get goosebumps when I remember that innings. Still (laughs). We were 15/5 in the second innings with more than two days left. I went and played hat-trick ball. Gaja (who took seven wickets in that innings) got two wickets in two balls. The scenario was very complicated. It was a special innings (139) to get the team out there and then win that game in the end,” recalls Arpit.
Unadkat effect and white-ball turnaround
While Saurashtra was always among the big boys in Ranji Trophy, it was the shorter formats that needed attention. Ever since he took over the captaincy, Unadkat has instilled confidence in the unit and brought his IPL/international experience to the team. According to Arpit, he has killer instinct and fearlessness in the team, which is essential to excel.
“Cheteshwar still comes and plays for us in Ranji Trophy whenever he gets a window. (Ravindra) Jadeja hasn’t played for Saurashtra for a long time. Pujara’s red ball experience has always been there for us and it is quite amazing. But the white-ball variation that Jaydev Unadkat has made is fantastic. He started that culture. We were not as fearless in the white ball, we were not as confident as we are now. Unadkat has instilled that vision in everyone’s mind. I think he has the vision of how a team can perform well in limited overs. His vision is a little different from what we’ve had in the past. His great skill is to transfer that personal experience. The way he transferred it is excellent. We win or lose, now we have a lot of fun. Playing under his captaincy and playing white ball cricket. We started enjoying the challenges offered by good teams and it is this mindset that Unadkat has brilliantly transferred to everyone,” revealed Arpit.
Not many people have gone from Saurashtra to play in the IPL. Players like Jaydev Unadkat, Ravindra Jadeja and Chetan Sakariya have been regulars in the cash-rich league and Arpit now feels success in white-ball competitions will only take other players to step up and realize their dream of playing in the “best league”. will help to do. Of world”.
“As a cricketer everyone wants to play at the highest level and in the IPL. Prerak Mankad was in IPL last time, Sheldon Jackson was there, Samarth Vyas has done very well in white ball matches this year also. There are five-six players in the circuit and obviously when we are winning the Vijay Hazare Trophy and also qualifying consistently in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, this time more and more players including me can play.
back in familiar territory
After winning the Ranji Trophy title in the 2019-20 season, Saurashtra did not fare well in the truncated edition, which took place last season. With a full-fledged Home and Away edition of the tournament this time around, Arpit is very excited and feels he has his side working in a very “competitive group”.
“We are all very excited. When we won the Ranji Trophy, there was no Ranji next year and last time it was a smaller tournament. This year we are getting a full-fledged trophy. We are very excited and very excited for it. We have the Vijay Hazare Trophy title and we are feeling very confident ahead of the Ranji season. This time we have a very competitive group as the teams are good and it will be a good challenge to compete,” says Arpit.