Saurashtra 249 for 5 (Jackson 133*, Desai 50, Jani 30*, Ostwal 2-20, Choudhary 2-38) Maharashtra 248 for 9 (Gaikwad 108, Kazi 37, Shaikh 31*, Jani 3-43) with five wickets
Satyajeet Bachhav’s third over really got the best out of Jackson, who charged down to hit the left arm spinner two sixes straight overhead before a misfield at sweeper coverage gave him another boundary. He completed his half-century with 66 balls and Desai followed him by getting there with 61 balls.
But with Jackson reaching a 116-ball century and sewing a 36-ball, 42-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Vasavada, Saurashtra managed to keep their noses in front.
Ostwal returned Vasavada for his second wicket, and Bachhav relieved Prerak Mankad immediately afterwards, and when Jani joined Jackson in the middle, Saurashtra was still 57 adrift. But the pair pressed Maharashtra again and knocked off the needed runs with 21 balls to spare. Fittingly, it was Jackson who hit a six and a four to get the job done.
In spirited conditions in the morning, Jaydev Unadkat and Kushang Patel held off the Maharashtra openers – Gaikwad and Pavan Shah couldn’t find the boundaries, but also found it difficult to hit. It led to Pavan attempting a risky single after throwing Unadkat to midwicket only to run out thanks to a direct hit from Jani.
The battle of the morning was between Unadkat and Gaikwad, both experienced players who fought inch by inch without giving a damn. After a period of four overs, Unadkat changed ends, thinking he was trailing Gaikwad, but the umpire was unmoved. He gave away just one point in the two overs after switching ends and after his first two spells his numbers were 6-1-5-0. This also involved a vicious bouncer who hit Bachhav on the helmet.
Gaikwad, meanwhile, struggled to get going as Maharashtra crept to 18 for 1 at the ten-over. He had 10 off 45 balls before hitting the first four – a sweep over back square leg from Dharmendrasinh Jadeja. A few overs later he drew fast bowler Kushang over square leg.
He took on Jadeja in the process, repeatedly hitting the left arm spinner offside. He scored his third century in a row with back-to-back sixes off Jani before a run-out tamely ended his knockout. Maharashtra couldn’t accelerate much after that, and Jani’s hat-trick – Saurabh Nawale, Hangargekar and Ostwal being victims – on the penultimate round saw them retire well below a par score.
The win cemented Unadkat’s credentials as a captain; he had guided Saurashtra to their first Ranji Trophy title in 2019-2020. He also topped the wicket charts in the Vijay Hazare Trophy with 19 strikes to his credit.