Nagarkoti's all-round show helps Team Rajasthan pull off a thriller against Gujarat
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Not every day you would see teams coming out from 11/4 or defending 183 with opposition positioned at 139/3 in a 50-over game but Team Rajasthan did the both that too against the stalwart team Gujarat in the Vijay Hazare Trophy fixture at the Chepauk. Team Rajasthan recovered from 11/4 to post 183 and later on cleaned up Gujarat for 169 despite the Ranji champions cemented at 139/3. The win was never possible without a special all-round performance from the 17-year old Kamlesh Nagarkoti who scored an unbeaten 56 and excelled with the ball as well by taking a hat-trick to change the course of the game.
The trend of toss winning teams electing to bowl first continued at Chepauk as Gujarat did it twice in their two games at the venue on winning the toss. After the Team Rajasthan opener Pratap Singh Hada got run out in 4th over, Bumrah got through the inside edge of Salman Khan on the very first ball of 6th over but it turned out as a no-ball. But Bumrah ensured he picked up a wicket in the same over as Yagnik edged the moving ball into the slips. Soon on the next delivery, he bowled a beauty to the new batsman Ashok Menaria who managed to edge it to Parthiv behind the stumps. The Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel tried to hand a hat-trick to Bumrah by setting up 6 slips in place but the Indian limited-overs star pacer bowled on the leg which was happily flicked for a couple by Mahipal Lomror.
Another pacer Ishwar Chaudhary got rid of Salman Khan in the very next over to leave Team Rajasthan reeling at 11 for 4. Both the bowlers had a 6-over first spell and despite not getting any more wickets, the pair kept the runs coming tough. Bumrah’s spell read 6-3-13-2 while Ishwar recorded 6-2-9-1. The rescue for the batting side came after they lost the 6th wicket in the 22nd over for 54 with Arjit Gupta and Nagarkoti batting cleverly by sneaking in singles and a few boundaries regularly.
The pair put on 86 runs for the 7th wicket in 105 balls before Gupta holed out in Ishwar Chaudhary’s bowling after a fine 69 coming in 99 balls with 5 fours and a six. Nagarkoti remained unbeaten scoring 56 off 74 with 5 fours and a six to help his side to post a decent total of 183 before they got bowled out in 47th over. India’s U19 player Rahul Chahar was one of the 4 batsmen in his side to score double figures with another India U19 player Lomror being the another one to score double digits with 16.
Chasing 184, Gujarat lost their top 3 batsmen early on. Nathu Singh cleaned up the Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel with a brilliant delivery on middle stump line while Panchal caught behind off Pankaj Singh. Nathu removed Gohel who was looking dangerous with a run-a-ball 28. However, a big 4th wicket stand between Bhargav Merai and Rujul Bhatt almost played Team Rajasthan out of the game before a reward for consistent bowling to young leggie Rahul Chahar opened up the game widely.
“There was some assistance for spinners from one end,” said Rahul Chahar after the game. “I was bowling on the end without grass which helped me get some turn.” Chahar bowled all his 10 overs from Pavilion end and went for just 33 runs in those and gave the breakthrough for his side. Merai was completely deceived by Chahar and edged to the keeper after a constructive 51. He shared a 90-run stand for the all-important 4th wicket with Rujul in 22.2 overs. A couple of overs later, Rujul, one short of his fifty, went for a slog sweep and ended up getting caught at mid-wicket off Tajinder.
Moment of the game came when Pankaj brought back Nagarkoti after Nathu Singh returned to the pavilion in mid over due to an injury. The young pacer cleaned up Rohit Dahiya on 2nd ball of the 39th over with a perfect yorker on off-stump and Chirag Parmar with a well-pitched delivery on the middle stump on the very next ball. Bumrah, who was coming fresh from a 24-ball 42 vs Goa, faced the hat-trick ball from Nagarkoti which was sliding down the leg and uprooted Bumrah’s leg stump.
Nagarkoti, who was playing in only his 2nd List A match, became the 11th Indian to take a hat-trick in this format and the 9th in Vijay Hazare Trophy (Inter-State One-dayers). He is the only teenager among the 11 players.
“We were trying our best after we got the set batsmen out. The ball was reversing a bit and Pankaj said to me to try in that way,” said the young India U19 all-rounder after his inspiring performance. “We were bit lazy when we didn’t get wickets. But when we got those two wickets, we got the energy to rise high. It was a special moment (about hat-trick). I felt happy as I could remove my team from pressure.”
“The coach said to stay at the crease along with Gupta, who is a senior batsman. He said it will help the team and also me to score runs later on,” said Nagarkoti about his maiden List A fifty.
From 139/3, in no time Gujarat were 152/8, still 32 short of the target with only two wickets in hand. Captain Pankaj got the last recognized batsman Chirag Gandhi and took the last wicket of Ishwar as well to hand his side a dramatic win against the defending champions of Vijay Hazare and the Ranji Trophy champions.
Despite the loss, the Gujarat and India’s limited-overs lead pacer Jasprit Bumrah that they won’t take the loss to heart. “It happens. We have done in past by taking out teams and winning games from such situations. We would like to take all the positives from this game.”
Team Rajasthan: 183 all out in 47 overs (Arjit Gupta 69, Kamlesh Nagarkoti 56*; Ishwar Chaudhary 2/20, Chirag Parmar 2/25, Jasprit Bumrah 2/38)
Team Gujarat: 169 all out in 43.1 overs (Bhargav Merai 51, Rujul Bhatt 49; Pankaj Singh 3/23, Kamlesh Nagarkoti 3/30, Nathu Singh 2/31)