Ranji Q/F: Gohel's 261* surges Gujarat's lead to 578

Having virtually batted Odisha out of the match with an overnight lead of 309 runs, Gujarat was in no hurry to go for an outright victory, especially in the light of opener Samit Gohel slugging his way towards a big score in second innings.

Samit Gohel played at a brisk pace in the last session to remain unbeaten on 261 at close on the fourth day of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Capitalising on the time on hand, Gujarat looked to train for the tougher challenges ahead as it reached 514 for eight in its second innings against Odisha on the penultimate day of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here on Monday.

Having virtually batted Odisha out of the match with an overnight lead of 309 runs, Gujarat was in no hurry to go for an outright victory, especially as Samit Gohel slugged his way towards a big score.

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After being cautious in the morning session of two and a half hours, when Gohel added 30 runs to his overnight score of 110, the 26-year-old played at a brisk pace to remain unbeaten on 261 at stumps.

Considering that his previous best was 104, notched earlier in the season against Madhya Pradesh, it was understandable that the young man was keen to make his third first-class century unforgettable.

In his 555-ball vigil in windy conditions, which had him run to the pavilion at almost every drinks interval, Gohel struck 33 fours, and a six off left-arm spinner Dhiraj Singh.

Interestingly, Dhiraj was the most successful bowler for Odisha in the second innings as he valiantly grabbed five wickets, including that of the Gujarat skipper Parthiv Patel. Parthiv was bowled by a ball that kept low, after he had scored a fluent 40.

It was the fourth five-wicket haul for the 29-year-old Dhiraj, who had struggled this season except while registering five for 98 against Karnataka.

The pitch had a lot to offer even though it bounced the ball low at times. The Odisha medium pacers were able to work up good pace and bounce, but Gohel was quite comfortable in handling them through the day.

On the fifth and final day, it will be interesting to see whether Gujarat wants to allow Gohel to attempt a triple century, or declare with the overnight total for an intimidating target of 579 for Odisha.

The driving philosophy in modern sports is that the interests of the team are best served by taking care of the individual interests of the players!