Wriddhiman Saha of Bengal scored an unbeaten 203 and his 316-run stand with Cheteshwar Pujara (116 not out) helped Rest of India clinch the Irani Trophy against Ranji Trophy champions Gujarat in Mumbai on Tuesday. Rest of India won by six wickets even after Gujarat took the first innings lead.
Saha timed his double century perfectly as he looking to win his Test berth after missing action against England due to Injury. Wriddhiman Saha’s spot was taken by Parthiv Patel, the Gujarat skipper, who scored 11 and 32 in this match.
Pujara’s 116 not out was also timely because India will be playing a long Test series against Australia in February.
Wriddhiman Saha was adjudged the Man of the Match as Rest of India won the Irani Trophy for the 15th time.
“When I got out in the first innings, I decided I will be positive against fuller deliveries. Pujara played well in both the innings and didn’t look like he would get out.
He didn’t bog me down by asking me to calm down. He asked me go for the shots,” Saha said in a post-match chat.
Great comeback by Rest of India
It was a tremendous comeback for the Rest team after being reduced to 63 for four. They had conceded a huge 132-run first innings lead and were set a target of 379 by Gujarat.
However, Wriddhiman Saha and Cheteshwar Pujara turned things around. Their unbeaten 316-run partnership was the second highest in the history of Irani Trophy.
Starting the final day at 266 for four, the first hour was going to be crucial for Gujarat to have any chance. But Saha continued from where he left off. In the first eight balls he faced, Saha smashed two fours to put Parthiv Patel’s team on the backfoot.
Pugnacious Wriddhiman Saha
When Patel introduced spin in the form of Hardik Patel, Saha greeted it with 14 runs in the over. He had soon bettered his highest first-class score of 178 and with the target reduced to less than fifty, the challenge was for Saha to reach his double century.
With eight runs left for victory, Saha hit drove Karan Patel past cover to reach the coveted mark. The double century of his teammate completed, Pujara smashed a four of the next ball to seal a deserving win.
For Pujara, who will turn 29 on Wednesday, it was a perfect birthday gift. Starting from September 2016, it was his sixth hundred in first-class cricket, including three Test hundreds.
“The way Saha approached the innings made (all) the difference,” said Pujara.
“The pace bowlers, all of them, made the difference too. We wanted to get a good start, but didn’t. I wanted to hang on after Saha told me that he wanted to go after the bowlers. It was a good pitch. There was something for the pace bowlers and batsmen,” said Pujara.
Brief scores: Gujarat 358 and 246. Rest of India 226 and 379/4. ROI win by six wickets.