Ranji Trophy semifinal: Nagwaswalla strikes put Gujarat on top

Gujarat rode on 22-year-old Arzan Nagwaswalla's three-wicket haul to restrict Saurashtra to 217 for five at the end of first day's play.

Sheldon Jackson was unbeaten on 69 at the end of first day's play.   -  Vijay Soneji

The longer format of the game is all about patience. Unlike the T20s or the ODIs, five-day cricket tests the real character of the players -- both physically and mentally.

On Saturday morning as Gujarat won the toss and opted to field against a spirited Saurashtra in the semifinal of the Ranji Trophy, one wasn’t sure whether it was a right call on a flat deck.

But Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel seemed to have a different plan. He let his bowlers settle down, take their time and find rhythm. And at the end of the day, that worked as Gujarat rode on 22-year-old Arzan Nagwaswalla’s three-wicket haul to restrict the home team to 217-5 at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

Saurashtra still has a long way to go, with the seasoned Sheldon Jackson unbeaten on 69, along with Chirag Jani (not out for 16). But as it looks back at the day’s proceedings, Saurashtra wouldn’t be too pleased with the way it lost top batsmen, despite them getting starts.

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Openers Harvik Desai and Kishan Parmar forged a 62-run opening stand, but Saurashtra witnessed slip-ups twice in the day -- in the post-lunch and post-tea sessions. And those were enough to put brakes on its innings.

However, on a day when India’s premier domestic tournament saw the introduction of Decision Review System in a limited form, Parmar was lucky to survive twice -- he was caught at slips off a no-ball and then dropped at deep fine leg by Roosh Kalaria -- before being shown the door by Axar Patel.

Even after his departure, Saurashtra looked confident as it headed to lunch at 89-1, with Desai and Avi Barot going strong. But soon after, Desai walked back to the pavilion after being caught by Bhargav Merai off Nagwaswalla for 32, Axar Patel rattled the stumps of Avi Barot -- who looked steady in his 27-run knock.

With two set batsmen back, Jackson and Vishvaraj Jadeja steadied the ship, with a 58-run stand, but moments after tea break, Nagwaswalla dismissed Jadeja and Arpit Vasavada off consecutive deliveries.

A flag-bearer of Parsi legacy in Indian cricket, Nagaswalla was close to joining the hat-trick club, but that did not happen, with Chirag Jani holding fort. Playing on the defensive, both Jackson and Jani ensured that they ended the day with no further dents.

Brief Scores: Saurashtra 217/5 (Sheldon Jackson 69 no; Kishan Parmar 37; Arzan Nagwaswalla 3-40) vs Gujarat.

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