Ranji Trophy semifinals: Arpit Vasavada turns the tables with 139, Saurashtra in command

Coming in at a time when the home team was reeling at 15-5, Vasavada forged two crucial partnerships to guide Saurashtra to 274 and set a 327-run target for Gujarat.

Saurashtra batsman Arpit Vasavda celebrates his century during Ranji Trophy Semi Final Between Saurashtra and Gujarat at Saurashtra Cricket Stadium in Rajkot on Tuesday March 03, 2020.   -  Vijay Soneji

Cool, calm and low-key — that’s how Arpit Vasavada loves to be off the field. But when he dons the whites for Saurashtra, he is a completely different man. The calmness makes way for aggression, and the willow does all the talking.

That’s how it has been for the last nine years.

Coming lower down the order, Vasavada has always been a crisis manager for Saurashtra, and it was no different on Tuesday.

As It Happened

Saurashtra fights back

The 31-year-old’s gritty knock of 139 not only helped his team fight back in the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Gujarat, but also kept its final hopes alive.

Coming in at a time when the home team was reeling at 15-5, Vasavada forged two crucial partnerships -- 90 runs with Chetan Sakariya, and 109 with Chirag Jani -- to guide Saurashtra to 274 in the second innings, and set a 327-run target for Gujarat.

At stumps on fourth day, Gujarat was at 7-1, with Samit Gohil (5) and Bhargav Merai (1) at the crease. Chasing a rather tricky total, Gujarat lost its opener Priyank Panchal for a duck. Out of touch, Panchal was caught by Dharmendrasinh Jadeja in the very first ball he faced, off Jaydev Unadkat.

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The battle, however, is still not lost for Gujarat. With some of the seasoned campaigners in its ranks, it would be interesting to see how the visiting team tackles the Saurashtra bowling attack on the final day.

Positive start

When it lost five of its top batsmen on Monday, it looked impossible for Saurashtra to bounce back. But in a game of glorious uncertainties, turnarounds do happen. The Vasavada-Sakariya duo got off to a positive start on Tuesday morning, and that mindset worked for the home team.

Aware of the conditions, Vasavada and Sakariya took time to settle down and then went about their business. However, a mix-up saw Sakariya missing out on a half-century by just five runs.

With the set pair broken, there was a high chance of Gujarat bouncing back, but Vasavada didn’t let that happen.

Jani-Vasavada partnership

While he held fort at one end, Chirag Jani relied on his natural game to score 51 and add on a 100-plus partnership.

Even though Chintan Gaja — who scalped a five-for on the fourth day — added a couple of more wickets to his kitty, he lacked aggression. That helped Saurashtra clawback.

As Vasavada walked back to pavilion after being dismissed by Arzan Nagwaswalla, he was given a standing ovation by his team-mates. After all, it was because of him that Saurashtra was still alive in the game, and could actually dream of reaching yet another final.

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