No one has been more prolific than Arpit Vasavada in the domestic circuit in recent years. In the two seasons Saurashtra have won the Ranji Trophy in the last three years, he aggregates more than 1,600 runs. A batter in the classical mould, the 34-year-old scored centuries in the semi-final (139 vs Gujarat) and final (106 vs Bengal) in their maiden Ranji Trophy win in 2019-20. This season too, he slammed a double hundred (202 vs Karnataka) and a crafty 81 (vs Bengal) in the semi-final and final respectively. Here he talks about the experience.
You scored 763 runs in the 2019-20 season and 907 runs this time. Which was more fulfilling?
This year was more special. If you see all the teams, the league stage was tough this time. After winning the Ranji Trophy the first time, it’s always important to prove ourselves again. If you have won it once, it’s okay. But if you have won it a second time, it’s important. That way, this season was more crucial.
When did you think Saurashtra could go all the way?
We didn’t think we could win it at the start of the season. But the match we won (by 48 runs) against Mumbai in Mumbai was important. That created the momentum for us. There was no (Jaydev) Unadkat, (Cheteshwar) Pujara or Ravindra (Jadeja) and we still won. That match was the turning point for me.
Unadkat (the skipper) said after the final that your 900 runs were equivalent to 1,400-1,500 runs.
It’s a great compliment for me. The way he has bowled and led the side for the last 3-4 years, it’s always good to hear the captain praising you like that. The amount of runs I have scored is fine. But it’s the impact they have had on a particular match or in the course of the tournament that is more satisfying for me.
How do you approach your batting?
I take my time initially. I rely more on defence than on strokes. The good thing is most of the time I go to bat, Sheldon (Jackson) or Chirag (Jani) is at the crease. They are the ones who like to play strokes. I have a great tuning with them. We have a natural setup where they play their game and I take my time setting up the batters and building my innings. I don’t follow the scoreboard. I just play it session by session. This eventually turned out well for us.
Do you feel your batting against Karnataka (202, and 47* in a nervous chase of 115) was your best ever?
It’s one of my best games because the situations were different. Actually, it was a nervous time for me because we were 42/5. But Chetan (Sakariya) came in and hit a couple of sixes against (Krishnappa) Gowtham. That gave us the momentum. Those sixes also gave me the confidence that this was ultimately a small target and if we score 20-30 runs quickly they will give in. I hit three boundaries after that. But none of this counter was planned.
Which was the most difficult pitch to bat on?
The last two games were difficult. The ball was seaming around in Bangalore and Eden Gardens. The bounce and pace were very good too. If I have to pick, I think the last pitch, at Eden, was one of the most difficult I have played on.
What is the legacy you want Saurashtra to create?
The way we are playing, this decade belongs to Saurashtra. We don’t have to prove anything. This legacy will inspire the next generation. It’s important that we carry on playing this brand of cricket for the next four-five years. That should be the aim for Saurashtra and me.
As a performing batter, how do you deal with the lack of chances to play at the highest level?
Everyone wants to play for India but it isn’t in our hands. I’m really happy wherever I am playing. When we won the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy, we were hoping to get some game time in the Duleep Trophy and the Irani Cup but Covid-19 struck and two years went in vain. Those two years taught us to enjoy our cricket. That’s what I am doing right now.
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