ROI v Gujarat, Irani Cup 2016-17 Day 1 Review: Chirag Gandhi stands out while ROI bowlers take the day

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Siddharth Kaul of Rest of India in the Irani Cup
Siddharth Kaul. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The Rest of India v Ranji Trophy champions Gujarat – Irani Cup 2016-17 match got underway today at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai. Gujarat skipper Parthiv Patel won the toss and decided they wanted to bat first. Mumbai wicket is usually a good one to bat on and the recently played warm-up games between India A and England were high scoring as well.

Gujrat surprisingly decided to make changes in their winning line-up and as many as 4 replacements were brought in for the match from the team that won the Ranji Trophy final against Mumbai a week ago. Slightly overcast conditions resulted in assistance for the seamers and Rajasthan skipper Pankaj Singh got them the breakthrough in the very first over.

Samit Gohil was on his way back for a duck as Pankaj hit him on the pads with an inswinger. But Priyank Panchal the highest run-scorer of the Ranji season was there at the other end and stitched a partnership with No. 3 Dhruv Raval.

They took the team over the 50-run mark while the ROI pacers continued to create problems. Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara brought back Pankaj for the second spell in his attempt to break the partnership and it paid off as he scalped the big fish, Panchal. It was a back of the length delivery on the off stump and moved away after pitching to find the outside edge and it went through to Karun Nair waiting at first slip for something similar.

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It was then time for Punjab pacer Siddharth Kaul to get into action. Skipper Parthiv edged on back onto his stumps and departed for just 11; that was indeed a huge blow to the team and ROI pacers were all over Gujarat. In the very next over Kaul sent back Raval caught behind for 39. Then there was a phase of resistance as Manpreet Juneja and Chirag Gandhi built a resistive partnership.

They stopped the flow of wickets and also scored some runs to push Pujara to think something out of the box. He answered the situation by bringing in Mumbai opener Akhil Herwadkar to bowl his off-spinners. Herwadkar has been a partnership breaker for Mumbai and did the job for ROI as well.

Juneja who had batted with confidence for over 30 overs of their partnership adding 109 runs for the 5th wicket with Gandhi went after a short ball from Herwadkar but played an uppish drive towards Pujara at short cover who moved to his left to complete a good catch and the resistance was shattered.

It was time the ROI skipper brought back his front line bowlers and Pankaj and Kaul were back in action. They got three wickets in quick succession and were on the verge of bowling out Gujarat but all this while Chirag Gandhi at the other end wasn’t willing to give in. He countered them exceptionally well to reach his maiden first-class century. He became only the fifth player to score his maiden century in the Irani Cup.

While ROI tried hard to get all the wickets from the other end, he protected his partners to a certain extent and continued to add runs to the board. At the end of the day, he walked back unbeaten on 136 scoring almost half the team’s runs.

Brief Scores:

Gujarat: 300/8 in 88 overs (Chirag Gandhi 136*; Siddharth Kaul 4/73, Pankaj Singh 3/77)

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