New Delhi: Ravindra Jadeja snared three out of the remaining four Railways wickets as Saurashtra won their final group league Ranji Trophy match by a comfortable 97-run margin at the Karnail Singh Stadium on Friday.
The proceedings were wrapped up within 70 minutes into the first session on third day as Railways were all out for 149 in 51.1 overs, chasing 247.
Jadeja, who took four for 42 in the second essay, finished with his career-best figures of 10 for 65 to show for his efforts.
Saurashtra, thus finished their group league engagements with 16 points but are still not sure of making it to the knock-out stage as Rajasthan`s outright victory over Orissa would also put the defending champions on 16 points and they might just sneak in on quotient.
UP also can`t be ruled out of the equation as a win against Karnataka (practically tough) can ensure a ticket to the next round for Suresh Raina and Co.
On the day, M Suresh (30) played a cut shot off seamer Sandip Maniar, which Shitanshu Kotak stationed at gully pouched after fumbling a bit. Then Jadeja removed Ashish Yadav (50, 92b, 8x4) with a delivery that kept low and the batsman was caught on the backfoot.
Nilesh Chauhan (0) and Krishna Kant Upadhyay (10) got out in the identical fashion being caught by Cheteshwar Pujara.
After being comprehensively beaten, the Railwaymen were seen laughing out loud inside their dressing room, much to the amazement of the Saurashtra players who didn`t understand the reason.
"Actually, we were nominating our player of the season and among 22 team members, 11 were in favour Mahesh Rawat and 10 in favour of Krishna Kant. I casted my vote in favour of KK and it was a tie. Then everyone was pretty vociferous about their choice and finally we decided to give a cap, which is our prized possession to KK," coach Abhay Sharma told reporters
On a serious note, Sharma admitted that there was a distinct "lack of application" on the part of his players.
"Now we don`t have any matches till the one-dayers start. I have told my players to go back home and analyse their performances. They should stand in front of the mirror and ask questions about how they performed," an upset Sharma said.
Railways captain Sanjay Bangar feels that they didn`t show enough consistency throughout the season.
"We started and finished the season poorly. There were a few good performances sandwiched in between. The performances of Shivakant, KK, Mahesh Rawat and Nitin Bhille were positives but likes of Shreyash Khanolkar and Prashant Awasthi couldn`t grab the opportunities provided.
"Prashant in fact was preferred over Yere Goud but he didn`t contribute," Bangar said.
Bangar, who will be 40 next year, meanwhile said that he hasn`t thought of retirement.
Saurashtra coach Debu Mitra said, "Although the ball turned a lot, we had better quality of spinners which made the difference."
Premier batsman Cheteshwar Pujara said, "I won`t call this track a minefield but yes it was difficult out there. One couldn`t have scored runs by merely surviving."
Saurashtra: 175 & 152.
Railways: 81 & 149 (Ashish Yadav 50, K Makvana 5/47, R Jadeja 4/42).
Points: Saurashtra 5; Railways 0.