Continuing their dream run in domestic cricket, Gujarat produced an inspired bowling performance to take control of their Irani Cup game against Rest of India at the Brabourne Stadium on Saturday.
With Rest of India trailing by 152 runs and just the last-wicket pair at the crease, Parthiv Patel’s boys will fancy their chances of completing a grand double by lifting the Irani Cup following their maiden Ranji Trophy title.
Barring Cheteshwar Pujara, who hit a solid 86, the Rest of India batsmen had a disappointing day, ending the second day at 206 for nine in reply to Gujarat’s 358.
Chirag Gandhi set the tone early, hitting 33 off the 58 runs his team got in the morning. The fielders helped Gujarat’s cause by dropping two sitters of the tailenders.
For Rest, Pujara waged a lone battle. He had to walk in early as a spectacular one-handed catch by Samit Gohel in the slips to dismiss opener Abhinav Mukund pushed Rest on the backfoot. The captain added 68 runs for the second wicket with the other opener Akhil Herwadkar. It proved to be the only sizeable partnership of their innings.
Karun out for 28
Playing his first big match after scoring a triple hundred in the Test match against England, Karun Nair faced high expectations. The situation also demanded a big score. Being the last first-class game of the domestic season before the Australia Test series, it was an opportunity for the Karnataka batsman to strengthen his claim for a permanent place in the India team’s crowded middle-order where he will have to compete for a spot with Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane.
With chief selector MSK Prasad watching from the stands, Nair began watchfully, waiting for 20 balls before getting his first boundary. However, the No. 4 batsman fell at the score of 28 and his team couldn’t recover from the blow.
Pujara battled valiantly but wickets kept falling at the other end. His India teammate Wriddhiman Saha, already under pressure from Parthiv Patel’s fine run, fell for a duck. And, once the captain’s resistance ended at the total of 191, the innings collapsed.
Packing a punch
The Gujarat pace trio of Chintan Gaja, Mohit Thadani and Ishwar Chaudhary built pressure from one end, sharing six wickets, while left-arm spinner Hardik Patel did his bit with three wickets. The pick of the bowlers was Gaja. Fresh from his fine showing in the Ranji Trophy final against Mumbai where he claimed an eight-wicket match haul, the pacer impressed with his line of attack and claimed the big wickets of Mukund and Nair, finishing with three wickets. The 22-year-old bowler had a strong appeal against Pujara as well when the batsman shouldered arms with the score at 121 for two.
Gaja was well supported by Thadani, who did the damage in his third spell (7-3-12-2) in which he claimed Manoj Tiwary and Saha.