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Irani Trophy 2022-23: Kuldeep Sen's fifer ensures title retention for Rest of India

The Rest of India trounced Saurashtra by eight wickets to retain the Irani Trophy 2022-23. Kuldeep Sen's five-wicket haul ensured the retention.

Irani Trophy 2022-23: Kuldeep Sen fifer ensures title retention for Rest of India against Saurashtra-ayh
First Published Oct 4, 2022, 5:20 PM IST

Pacer Kuldeep Sen blew away a final couple of batters with his scorching pace and sharp bounce. He finished with a match haul of eight wickets as the Rest of India won its 29th Irani Trophy with a walk-in-the-park eight-wicket triumph over Saurashtra at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Tuesday. While Saurashtra presented a much more nuanced account of itself in the second innings, a total of 380 meant ROI needed solely 105 runs with almost a couple of days of play left. It knocked off the runs in little over a half, with Abhimanyu Easwaran staying unbeaten on 63, besides adding 81 match-winning runs for the unbroken third wicket partnership with wicketkeeper-batter Kona Bharat (27*).

However, young Kuldeep (5/94 in 19 overs) wrapped up the Saurashtra innings in the morning, bowling a fast and complete with trapping Parth Bhut plumb in front. Jaydev Unadkat, who played a captain's knock of 89 to fight till the fourth morning, was finally removed when Kuldeep banged a short and extra bounce saw him slashing hard, only to find the consequential edge that carried it to keeper Bharat.


With a match-haul of eighth wickets, Kuldeep exhibited why he is rated so high at the national level as he travels with Team India to Perth as a net bowler for its ICC T20 World Cup preparations. Easwaran, with an average of 32 in his past 20 innings, played some floating strokes, including some distinguished cover drives. However, these weren't scored under pressure like Sarfaraz Khan did when he came into bat at 18/3 in RoI's opening innings.

Bengal pacer Mukesh Kumar deserved the 'Player of the Match' award for his mesmerizing first-morning spell, earning four top-order wickets to bowl out Saurashtra for 98 and pocket the match. "There was some assistance early on, and we tried to bowl them out as quickly as possible. I focus on my line and length," Mukesh said after the contest.

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Mukesh's captain Hanuma Vihari was all-praise for Sarfaraz Khan, who bailed the team out with an illuminated century on the opening day. "We were in a tough situation on a wicket helping the bowlers. Sarfaraz batted beautifully. The 220-run partnership [between him and Sarfaraz] helped us to gain the momentum, and we took the game away from them," he noted.

Vihari achieved a prudent 82 off 184 deliveries but wasn't discouraged about missing out on a ton. "I wanted to get the hundred because I worked hard. I batted long, but at the end of the day, the contribution helped the team, and I am happy," he reckoned. For Saurashtra skipper Unadkat, the opening day track was very unlike Rajkot's, which made the difference.

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"We crumbled under the conditions. It wasn't a typical Rajkot wicket. We had to be in the game in that session and couldn't do it. It was about an extraordinary performance from someone who could have pulled out of that situation, it didn't happen, but we fought till the end," concluded Unadkat.
Brief Scores: Saurashtra 98 and 380 (Jaydev Unadkat 89, Prerak Mankad 72, Sheldon Jackson 71; Kuldeep Sen 5/98) lost to ROI 374 & 105/2 (Abhimanyu Easwaran 63*) by eight wickets.

(With inputs from PTI)

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