Saurashtra are all set to clinch their maiden Ranji Trophy title after bowling Bengal out for 381 in the first innings and earning a slender lead of 44 runs in Rajkot on Friday.

Jaydev Unadkat led a spirited bowling attack in the morning on Day 5 to break Bengal’s resilience and take the last four wickets in a margin of just 27 runs before the Saurashtra players erupted in celebrations.

Batting first on a dead track, which has shown nothing but cracks and roughs from the third and fourth day, Saurashtra had put on a mammoth total of 425 runs riding on Arpit Vasavada’s gritty 106 off 287 deliveries.

En route to his century, Vasavada had shared a 142-run stand with India’s Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara (66 off 237). The duo batted for more than 60 overs for what became the backbone of Saurashtra’s innings.

Earlier, opener Avi Barot and Vishvaraj Jadeja also contributed to their team’s cause with identical scores of 54. For the last wicket, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (33 off 52) and Unadkat (20 off 35) added 38 runs in 10 overs to pile on Bengal’s misery.

Chasing, the tourists had a nightmarish start with both the openers walking to the pavilion within 15 overs. At 35/2, experienced campaigner Manoj Tiwary held the reins of his team with Sudip Chatterjee.

The duo steadied the ship for almost 40 overs and looked destined for a big partnership when Tiwary was trapped in front for an LBW. With him gone for 35, the third-wickets stand died a premature death at 89 runs.

Chatterjee continued with his defiance and was joined by India Test wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha just before the Tea on Day 3. After safely guiding Bengal home without any further casualty on the day, the duo took their chances in the first session on Day 4.

Adding 84 runs without a wicket, Chatterjee (81 off 241) and Saha (64 off 184) put Bengal right into the contest. En route to their 122-run stand, both the batsmen completed their half-centuries. But, the party did not last long as Saurashtra struck hard in the middle session to reduce Bengal from 225/3 to 263/6.

The responsibility to bail Bengal out once again fell on Anushtup Majumdar’s shoulder, who had scored hundreds in quarters and semis, and he did not disappoint. Partnering Arnab Nandi, he played the entire last session and added 91 runs.

However, he could not finish the task and fell early on the last day at a personal score of 63. A comedy of error from Akash Deep saw Bengal losing their eighth in the form of a run-out. A dearth of partners at the other end meant Nandi had to go full blow but he failed and remained unbeaten at a score of 40.