Gandhi, Kalaria lead Gujarat fightback against Odisha

Odisha pacers made most of the green pitch to reduce Gujarat to 71 for 6 but an unbeaten 126-run partnership between Gandhi and Kalaria meant Gujarat ended the day at a fighting 197 for 6.

Rush Kalaria and Chirag Gandhi who rescued Gujarat with an unbeaten 126-runpartnership for the seventh wicket.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Odisha had Gujarat by the scruff of its neck but failed to capitalise as Chirag Gandhi and Rush Kalaria combined efficiently for an unbeaten 126-run partnership on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy cricket quarterfinals at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here on Friday.

On a grassy pitch that assisted the medium pacers, Gujarat, especially its skipper Parthiv Patel, saw a demon, and play had to be suspended for more than an hour to level the pitch with a heavy roller before lunch.

The Odisha bowlers, Deepak Behera in particular who accounted for the top three batsmen including the 1000-run man Priyank Panchal and captain Parthiv Patel, were able to capitalise to reduce Gujarat to 71 for six.

>Scorecard

Yet, not having beaten Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy, at home or away in five meetings spread over the last 15 years, Odisha lacked the conviction to go for the jugular and bring Gujarat on to its knees.

Full credit must go to the two batsmen who defied the attack that had so much variety in repairing the situation for Gujarat. Kalaria was defiant as he hooked a six to first take the team past the 100 mark, and played solidly thereafter, reaching his half century after Chirag Gandhi achieved the milestone with a more patient approach.

Gandhi suffered two nasty blows towards the fag end of the day as the shadows lengthened on the ground towards the pitch, but was courageous to stand up to the task. He struck six fours in his 161-ball vigil for 62. The umpires accepted the request of the batsmen and called off play at around 5.30 p.m.

Earlier in the morning, everything was fine till Parthiv Patel got hurt on his left upper arm. The umpires promptly agreed to his contention that there was a spot in the pitch, and the referee Daniel Manohar endorsed their decision, after play had been peaceful for the first hour and a half.

Early lunch was taken, and play resumed nearly after an hour and a half. Parthiv, who had strengthened the national squad during the Test series against England recently, was not convincing with his batting and eventually ended his agony by nicking medium pacer Basant Mohanty to wicket-keeper Saurabh Rawat.

Basant Mohanty struck once again and along with Biplab Samantaray, reduced Gujarat to a tricky situation before Chirag Gandhi and Rush Kalaria joined hands for a defiant performance that put things in perspective.

The fate of the five-day match will largely depend on how the teams tackle the conditions tomorrow.