Mukesh, Sarfaraz, Sen play starring roles as Rest of India win Irani Cup

Rest of India 374 (Sarfaraz 138, Vihari 82, Sakariya 5-93) and 105 for 2 (Abhimanyu 63*, Unadkat 2-37) beat Saurashtra 98 (Mukesh 4-23, Malik 3-25, Sen 3-41) and 380 (Unadkat 89, Mankad 72, Jackson 71, Sen 5-94, Saurabh 3-80) by eight wickets

Kuldeep Sen picked up the last two Saurashtra wickets in a hurry on the fourth morning, using his pace and the steep bounce on offer to good effect. He ended with 5 for 94 for the innings and a match haul of 8 for 135 as Rest of India won by eight wickets to lift the Irani Cup for the 29th time.
Saurashtra gave a much better account of their batting ability in their second innings, after being bowled out for 98 in the first, but they could only set Rest of India a 105-run target with almost two days of play left. The runs were knocked off in a little over a session-and-a-half, with Abhimanyu Easwaran remaining unbeaten on 63 while adding 81 runs for the third wicket with KS Bharat, who scored 27.
“We crumbled under the conditions. It wasn’t a typical Rajkot wicket,” Saurashtra captain Jaydev Unadkat said after the game. “We had to be in the game in that session and we couldn’t do it. It was about an extraordinary performance from someone who could have pulled out of that situation, didn’t happen but we fought till the end.”

The star of the day, and the Saurashtra second innings, was Sen. He bowled a fast and full delivery to trap Parth Bhut lbw to leave Saurashtra nine down. Unadkat, who played a captain’s knock of 89 to stretch the fight, became Sen’s final victim when he slashed at a short and quick delivery only to edge it to Bharat behind the stumps.

Sen’s colleague Mukesh Kumar was named the Player of the Match for his spell on the first morning, when he ran through the Saurashtra top three and later added Sheldon Jackson’s wicket to his tally. “There was some assistance early on and we tried to bowl them out as quickly as possible,” Mukesh said after the game.
Abhimanyu played some flowing strokes in the chase, but the innings of the match was Sarfaraz Khan’s 138 off 178 balls in Rest of India’s first innings. Sarfaraz counterattacked after walking in at 18 for 3 and took his team to a match-winning total in collaboration with Hanuma Vihari, who scored 82.

“We were in a tough situation [in the first innings] on a wicket which was helping the bowlers, Sarfaraz batted beautifully,” Vihari said. “The 220-run partnership helped us gain the momentum and we took the game away from them. I wanted to get the hundred because I worked hard. I batted long, but at the end the of the day, the contribution helped the team and I am happy.”