On a pitch assisting spin and showing signs of variable bounce, Vidarbha are in a strong position - Saurashtra, chasing 206 for victory, are 58 for 5. A steep ask from here on, and that explains Satish's confidence. But the three completed innings so far have seen the last three wickets add 116, 123 and 66 runs respectively. "So we're not getting complacent. We're taking it one wicket at a time," Satish said of his team, despite them being the defending champions and playing the game at home in Jamtha, Nagpur.
Vidarbha have Aditya Sarwate to thank to a large extent for getting them into a position from where they can realistically hope to defend their title successfully. With Vidarbha stuttering in their second innings, Sarwate got in and hit 49 to take them to 200 and set Saurashtra a tricky target. Then, following up his five-wicket haul in the first innings, the left-arm spinner picked up the first three Saurashtra wickets in the second innings, including, Cheteshwar Pujara for the second time in the match. This time for a five-ball duck.
"Throughout the season, and even last season, he's consistently performing. He's always getting crucial runs for us, and obviously with the ball - 50-plus wickets. It's really a great achievement," Satish said.
"These low targets are never easy to chase, especially in such a high-pressure game" GANESH SATISH
The target of 206 would qualify as a low one, especially against a team that chased down a tournament-high 372 in the quarter-final against Uttar Pradesh and then a steep 279 against Karnataka in the semi-final.
"We knew we had to be positive. We knew there was some help for the spinners, so we knew we were always in the game," Satish explained. "If you see even last year, we defended a couple of low totals. So that gave us confidence. The coach and the senior players, we spoke about it, that anything can happen. These low targets are never easy to chase, especially in such a high-pressure game. Anything can happen … a couple of quick wickets. So we were just thinking of getting a couple of quick wickets and putting some pressure on them."
They certainly got those wickets quickly enough, and with the pitch not getting any easier to bat on, it might be tricky for Saurashtra to claw back from here.
"It's a bit difficult to make runs. If you look to block, it's not easy to get wickets as well. But it's not easy to score runs, you've got to rotate the strike, take singles on this wicket. After a while, the ball does get softer, and the odd ball does, but not every ball. So you feel you're in, but one good ball, that's all it takes," Satish said. "I think the bounce is okay, I don't think that's changed, it's the speed of the wicket, it's a little slow now."
Saurashtra's Dharmendrasinh Jadeja said that Sarwate's accuracy was the reason behind his success, but said that his own team was let down because not everyone contributed. That said, he believed Vidarbha were still in the reckoning to post a come-from-behind win.
"Sarwate was just bowling at one spot, and the wicket was doing the rest - whether turning or not," Dharmendrasinh said. "That was my plan too, to deliver at one particular spot on the pitch.
"This was a crucial game for us, and we needed everyone to perform together. That didn't happen, but we still have hope. We just need one good partnership. Sheldon's wicket, just four overs before the stumps, did hurt us, but Sheldon was just playing his natural game."