Medium fast bowler Chintan Gaja picked up a fifer and helped Gujarat stitch a remarkable come back in the match after they conceded a 52 run first-innings lead to Saurashtra on the third day of the Ranji Trophy semifinal in Rajkot on Sunday.
It was Gaja’s brilliant spell of 5 wickets for 15 runs which reduced Saurashtra to just 66/5 in the second innings at the end of the third day. However, owing to the first innings lead, they are now ahead of Gujarat by 118 runs at the SCA Stadium in Khandheri.
Gaja bowled in the right areas and was consequently rewarded for his efforts in the form of wickets. He picked up the wickets of Harvik Desai, Kishan Parmar, Avi Barot, Vishwaraj Jadeja and the hero of the first innings Sheldon Jackson to reduce the Saurashtra side to 15 for 5.
However, Arpit Vasavada and Chetan Sakariya managed to ensure that the team lose no more wickets and were unbeaten on 23 and 32 respectively at stumps on Day 3.
Earlier the hosts bundled out Gujarat for 252 in the first innings. At one stage, Gujarat were restricted to 155/8 but Rujul Bhatt (71) and Gaja (61) added 87 runs together to bail their team out of trouble.
Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Unadkat broke the partnership by dismissing Bhatt and his wicket ensured that the hosts take the first-innings lead.
In the first session of the day, Chirag Jani picked wickets of overnight batsmen Axar Patel (21) and Roosh Kalaria (0) in quick succession. However, Bhatt and Gaja then joined hands and helped Gujarat reduce the deficit.
Saurashtra will now have to bat long on the fourth day and their tail must wag in order for them to post a challenging total for Gujarat to chase on the final two days of the Ranji Trophy semifinal.
Saurashtra 304 and 66/5 (Chetan Sakariya 32 batting, Chintan Gaja 5/15) vs Gujarat 252 (Rujul Bhatt 71, Chintan Gaja 61; Jaydev Unadkat 3-86). Saurashtra lead by 118 runs.