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Irani Trophy 2016-17, Review: Saha, Pujara brings home Irani Cup for ROI

Rest of India
Rest of India. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Rest of India continued the domination by winning their 15th Irani Cup title after wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha scored his maiden double century and skipper Cheteshwar Pujara batted like men on a mission during the fourth and fifth day’s play against Ranji Trophy champions Gujarat at the Cricket Club of India Stadium in Mumbai.

The duo built on an unbroken 316 runs stand after ROI found themselves in a spot of bother yesterday at 63/4, much credit to Gujarat’s Hardik Patel (2/104) and Karan Patel (1/40). Saha remained unbeaten on 203*, courtesy 6 sixes and 26 fours, whereas Pujara remained not out scoring 116 *, along with 16 boundaries.

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Saha had a forgettable match before coming into bat yesterday in the 2nd innings, after scoring a naught in the first innings and then dropping a catch in Gujarat’s second knock. The Bengal mainstay started the morning from where he had left the other day, standing out of the crease, lofting Gaja’s wide one through the covers.

Pujara was lucky to survive an edge that went past the keeper for four before driving one past mid-on in the next over. Hardik Patel stressed a lot on bowling the negative line but his decision to come around the wicket won’t find him in good books, as Saha fetched 14 runs off Patel’s over.

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Not someone to deal in boundaries while batting in the nineties, Pujara was on a different road today, as he moved across and cut the ball hard past the point fielder to bring up his 38th first-class century. Gujarat’s inexperienced bowling attack got exposed and they hardly challenged the batsman. It turned out to be a contest between spineless bowling and attacking batsmanship.

Saha capped the role of the aggressor, going after the slog while Pujara was at his elegant best. Parthiv Patel and Gujarat could only watch the show as the duo chased a tricky 379 with Pujara going down the track and flushing the Ranji champs’ hopes.

Gujarat had earlier put up a total of 358 in the first innings, with Chirag Gandhi’s 169 being the highlight. ROI in reply conceded a 32-run lead after getting shot down for 226. Siddharth Kaul, who picked up a fifer in the first innings, derailed Gujarat’s innings in the second part with three wickets, while spinner Shahbaz Nadeem stood out with figures of 4/64.

Brief Scores:

Gujarat: 358/10 (Gandhi 169, Juneja 47, Kaul 5/86, Pankaj 4/104)

ROI: 226/10 (Pujara 86, Herwadkar 48, Gaja 4/60, Hardik 3/79)

Gujarat: 246/10 (Panchal 73, Gandhi 70, Nadeem 4/64, Kaul 3/70)

ROI: 379/4 (Saha 203*, Pujara 116*, Hardik 2/104)

Rest Of India won by 6 wickets.

Man of the match: Wriddhiman Saha (Rest Of India)

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