Ranji Trophy: Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel puts host in driver's seat

Parthiv Patel stitched a crucial 139-run partnership with Bhargav Merai, and later, an unbroken 82-run association with Chirag Gandhi.

Parthiv Patel acknowledges the crowd after end of the opening day’s play in Valsad.

Parthiv Patel acknowledges the crowd after end of the opening day’s play in Valsad.   -  Amol Karhadkar

Parthiv Patel (118*, 156b, 15x4) gave Goa a batting lesson as the Gujarat captain’s 27th First Class hundred put the host firmly in control of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal on Thursday.

Parthiv’s breezy knock, aided by a 139-run partnership for the third wicket with Bhargav Merai (84, 113b, 12x4) and an unbroken 82-run association for the fifth with Chirag Gandhi (40*, 79b, 6x4) meant Gujarat ended Day One at 330 for four after electing to bat. With Goa bowling lacking penetration required in the top tier, despite the red-soil strip at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Stadium showing signs of turn, the signs are ominous for the visiting outfit.

Ever since the coin didn’t land in Goa captain Amit Verma’s favour, Goa was chasing the game. Despite pacers Lakshay Garg and Vijesh Prabhudesai bowling tight lines early on, seldom did Gujarat openers Priyank Panchal and Samit Gohel look in trouble.

After taking time to get their eye in, the duo started driving fluently. However, both the openers gifted their wickets either side of lunch. While Panchal drove Vijesh straight to covers, Gohel gave catching practice to Snehal Kauthankar in the slips off left-arm spinner Darshan Misal in the third over after lunch.

READ | Ranji Trophy Quarters: Karnataka loses two wickets on frustrating opening day

That brought Parthiv in and the next 210 minutes saw the veteran dominating the proceedings. With Goa’s bowlers struggling to settle into rhythm, Parthiv and Merai plundered 125 runs in 25 overs to place Gujarat at 230 for two at tea. While Merai’s wristwork was impressive, Parthiv’s straight punches off pacers earned applause from the gallery.

Parthiv went past 11,000 First Class runs with a cut off left-arm spinner Amulya Pandrekar for his second four, but it was his 14th into the last session - a paddled sweep off Verma - that fetched him his maiden hundred of the season.

Before that, he had lost Merai (caught in the slips while driving a flighted ball) and Manprit Juneja (trapped lbw while playing for turn) off Verma shortly after tea. Perhaps Verma held himself too long before coming into the attack in the 47th over. But with Parthiv dealing with him with panache, even Verma’s legbreaks wouldn’t have stopped him on the day.

GUJARAT - 1st innings: Samit Gohel c Kauthankar b Misal 52, Priyank Panchal c Amonkar b Vijesh 28, Bhargav Merai c Misal b Verma 84, Parthiv Patel (batting) 118, Manprit Juneja lbw b Verma 1, Chirag Gandhi (batting) 40; Extras (nb-5, w-2) 7, Total (for 4 wkts., 90 overs) 330

Fall of wickets: 1-64, 2-107, 3-246, 4-248.

GOA bowling: Garg 13-4-30-0, Vijesh 12-3-60-1, Alemao 15-3-38-0, Misal 24-1-74-1, Suyash 3-1-17-0, Pandrekar 8-2-38-0, Verma 15-1-73-2.
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