Irani Cup: Gujarat in control despite Cheteshwar Pujara’s fighting knock | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Irani Cup: Gujarat in control despite Cheteshwar Pujara’s fighting knock

Gujarat produced an inspired bowling performance to take control of the Irani Cup encounter against Rest of India despite a valiant effort from Cheteshwar Pujara.

cricket Updated: Jan 21, 2017 19:19 IST
Chintan Gaja was the pick of the bowlers for Gujarat against Rest of India in their Irani Cup encounter.
Chintan Gaja was the pick of the bowlers for Gujarat against Rest of India in their Irani Cup encounter.(PTI)

Continuing their dream run in domestic cricket, Gujarat produced an inspired bowling performance to take control of the Irani Cup encounter against Rest of India at the Brabourne Stadium on Saturday.

With Rest of India trailing by 152 runs with the last wicket pair at the crease, the Parthiv Patel-led side will fancy their chances of completing a grand double by lifting the Irani Cup after their maiden Ranji Trophy title.

Except for skipper Cheteshwar Pujara’s solid 86, it was a disappointing day for the Rest of India team which ended the second day on 206 for nine in reply to Gujarat’s 358.

Chirag Gandhi set the tone in the morning, hitting 33 off the 58 runs his team got in the morning. The fielders helped Gujarat’s cause by dropping two absolute sitters.

For Rest of India, Pujara waged a lone battle. He had to walk in early as Samit Gohel took a spectacular one-handed catch in the slips to dismiss opener Abhinav Mukund and the early wicket pushed Rest immediately 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.

NAIR OUT FOR 28

Being his first big match after his triple hundred in the Test match against England, expectations were high of Karun Nair. The situation also demanded a big score off the batsman who has been the talk of the town thanks to his brilliant knock. Being the last first-class game of the domestic season before the Australia Test series, it was also an opportunity for the Karnataka batsman to further stake his claim for a permanent place in the Indian team’s crowded middle-order.

With chief selector MSK Prasad watching from the stands, Nair started watchfully, waiting for 20 balls for his first boundary. However, he fell at the score of 28 and his team didn’t recover from the blow.

Pujara battled valiantly but wickets kept falling from 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 completely.

PACE POWER

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, he 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 at the score of 121 for two. Gaja was backed well by Thadani, who did the damage in his third spell of 7-3-12-2 in which he claimed Tiwary and Saha.