Cricket

Ranji Trophy | Gaja’s heroics keep Gujarat in the hunt

Star of the day: Gujarat’s Chintan Gaja celebrates a Saurashtra batsman’s dismissal.

Star of the day: Gujarat’s Chintan Gaja celebrates a Saurashtra batsman’s dismissal.  

Hammers Saurashtra’s bowlers before rattling its batsmen with sensational spell

Chintan Gaja’s all-round heroics brought Gujarat back into the game and kept the Ranji Trophy semifinal hanging in balance at the SCA Stadium on Monday.

Chirag Jani’s double strike in the morning saw host Saurashtra reduce Gujarat to 155 for eight, in quest of 304. However, Gaja’s (61, 103b, 6x4, 4x6) 87-run partnership with a gritty Rujul Bhatt (71, 212b, 6x4) meant Gujarat cut the deficit to 52, after being bowled out for 252.

The right-arm pacer then bowled a sensational opening spell of 6-3-14-5 to rattle Saurashtra. Chetan Sakariya (32 n.o., 70b, 5x4), the No. 11 promoted to No. 5 to negate Gaja’s advantage, then combined with the seasoned Arpit Vasavada (23 n.o., 54b, 3x4). The left-handed duo’s unbroken 51-run partnership helped Saurashtra end day three at 66 for five, a lead of 118.

Undisputed

Gaja was the undisputed hero of the day. With Gujarat in danger of conceding a decisive lead, Gaja adopted an aggressive approach while Bhatt put a price tag on his wicket. With the softer ball of little aid for the bowlers, Gaja opened his shoulders against all Saurashtra bowlers, even an on-song Jaydev Unadkat. Of the 20 he scored off Unadkat, the stand-out stroke was the charge down the track for a huge six over long-on.

 

Carrying that confidence with the ball, Gaja’s spell up front spelt doom for Saurashtra. He bowled almost all 36 balls in the spell in the perfect channel and Saurashtra’s batsmen succumbed to the pressure of playing at virtually every ball. While openers Kishan Parmar and Harvik Desai were caught by the wicketkeeper — Dhruv Raval kept wickets instead of Parthiv Patel — Avi Barot offered a bat-pad catch to forward short-leg.

Peach

The peach of his dismissals was the one that sneaked through between Vishwaraj Jadeja’s bat and pad to take the top of off-stump. Sheldon Jackson, the first innings century maker, nicked the next into the cordon to leave Vasavada the job of saving a hat-trick.

Had Bhatt not made a mess of an edge off Sakariya that would have given Arzan Nagwaswalla a wicket in the dying moments, Gujarat may have ended the day right on top. With all-rounder duo of Jani and Prerak Mankad yet to bat, Saurashtra will hoping its lower order fires just like Gujarat’s to set a challenging target.

The scores: Saurashtra — 1st innings: 304.

Gujarat — 1st innings: Samit Gohel b Sakariya 1, Priyank Panchal lbw b Unadkat 0, Bhargav Merai c Jackson b Mankad 13, Dhruv Raval c Parmar b Unadkat 35, Rujul Bhatt c Barot b Unadkat 71, Parthiv Patel c Sakariya b Dharmendrasinh 27, Chirag Gandhi c Parmar b Dharmendrasinh 0, Axar Patel c Barot b Jani 21, Roosh Kalaria c Mankad b Jani 0, Chintan Gaja c Barot b Sakariya 61, Arzan Nagwaswalla (not out) 0; Extras (b-12, lb-2, w-9) 23; Total (in 87.3 overs): 252.

Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-1, 3-37, 4-58, 5-95, 6-97, 7-154, 8-155, 9-242.

Saurashtra bowling: Unadkat 24-3-86-3, Sakariya 20.3-1-60-2, Mankad 15-6-26-1, Jani 15-2-47-2, Dharmendrasinh 13-2-19-2.

Saurashtra — 2nd innings: Harvik Desai c Gohel b Gaja 0, Kishan Parmar c Raval b Gaja 0, Avi Barot c Gandhi b Gaja 1, Vishwaraj Jadeja b Gaja 6, Chetan Sakariya (batting) 32, Sheldon Jackson c Bhatt b Gaja 0, Arpit Vasavada (batting) 23; Extras (lb-4): 4; Total (for five wkts., in 29 overs): 66.

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-1, 3-4, 4-15, 5-15.

Gujarat bowling: Kalaria 9-5-12-0, Gaja 7-3-15-5, Nagwaswalla 6-2-12-0, Bhatt 3-0-17-0, Axar 4-1-6-0.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 4:37:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/ranji-trophy-gajas-heroics-keep-gujarat-in-the-hunt/article30965551.ece

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