Irani Cup: Wriddhiman Saha, Cheteshwar Pujara lead Rest of India fightback

Saha was unbeaten on 123 at stumps on day 4
Tushar Garg

Indian Test players Wriddhiman Saha and Cheteshwar Pujara put Rest of India (ROI) on course for a remarkable come from behind win against the Ranji champions Gujarat in the Irani Cup clash. At stumps on Day 4, Saha was batting on 123. Giving him company was his captain Pujara, unbeaten on 83.

Chasing 379, it seemed all over for ROI at 63/4. Opener Akhil Herwadkar was caught playing an irresponsible shot. With Abhinav Mukund’s dismissal soon after leaving the team two wickets down, ROI needed a sensible knock from Karun Nair.

However, Nair attempted a glory shot against spinner Hardik Patel but only managed to connect with thin air. He turned back to find his leg stump on the ground in what was rather an embarrassing dismissal for a player who had recently scored a triple century in a Test match.

Wriddhiman Saha, making his comeback to competitive cricket after an injury layoff, started his innings aggressively. The wicketkeeper-batsman hit two fours and a six in the first 13 balls he faced to ignite the ROI counter-attack. Pujara’s calm figure at the other end was the perfect foil for Saha’s audacity as the duo put their heads down in pursuit of the 379-run target.

Saha and Pujara put on an exhibition of remarkable Test-batsmanship. The pair patiently negotiated a testing period when Gujarat bowlers were on top, having taken out four ROI wickets. In the post-tea session, though, both the batsmen collected runs freely and remained together at the end of day’s play.

On their way to stitching an unbroken 203-run partnership, both the players achieved rare milestones as well. Saha became the first ever ROI wicketkeeper to score a century in the fourth innings of an Irani Cup clash. Pujara, meanwhile, became the first ever ROI captain in the history of the Irani Cup to record 50+ scores in both the innings.

Earlier in the day, Gujarat could add just 19 runs to their overnight score of 227. Chirag Gandhi was the last man dismissed for Gujarat on 70. Siddharth Kaul scalped both the remaining wickets to take his tally to eight wickets for the match.

With a tricky fifth day Brabourne track on offer and ROI still needing a decent amount of runs to win the match, the game is set up for an exciting finish on day 5. The presence of experienced stalwarts in Pujara and Saha at the crease make ROI the favourites. But if Gujarat manage to break through this partnership early in the morning, there will surely be jitters in the ROI camp.

Edited by Staff Editor


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