Saha, Pujara guide Rest of India to Irani Cup title

Saha's 203 and skipper Cheteshwar Pujara's unbeaten 116 helped Rest of India overhaul the target with six wickets still in hand.

Wriddhiman Saha

Wirddhiman Saha's unbeaten 203 is the highest score by a wicketkeeper-batsman in the tournament's history.   -  PTI

19.1 overs. 89 minutes. That’s all it took for Wriddhiman Saha and Cheteshwar Pujara to score the required 113 runs and help Rest of India retain the Irani Cup by overhauling a stiff target of 379 set by Ranji Trophy champion Gujarat.

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En route their unbroken 316-run partnership, Saha (203 n.o., 272b, 346m, 26x4, 6x6) and Pujara (116 n.o., 238b, 409m, 16x4) not only broke the morale of a raw Gujarat bowling attack, but also piled on a spree of records to set the pace ahead of five Test matches at home to be played in the next two months.

If Gujarat had to hope for getting back into the match, it had to strike early. However, Pujara and Saha didn’t look like having taken even a minute’s break since the penultimate day’s play came to a close. While Pujara started off playing out a maiden to Mohit Thadani, Saha continued to be at his aggressive best.

The fourth ball that the Bengal wicketkeeper-batsman faced was spanked over the in-field on the off-side, which prompted his Gujarat counterpart Parthiv Patel to keep to Chintan Gaja’s seamers close to the wicket. But, even after being forced to stay back in the crease, Saha didn’t stop scoring boundaries at will.

> Read: Saha a little ahead of Parthiv, says M.S.K. Prasad

In the next over, he pulled Thadani for a four through midwicket before Pujara too joined in, cutting Thadani through the cover point region. It was the same cut shot – off Ishwar Chaudhary a few over later, that fetched Pujara his sixth first-class hundred of the season, 37th overall.

An over earlier, Saha had welcomed Hardik Patel into the attack with successive fours – a streaky drive followed by a well-timed sweep – and a six over lonng-off in his opening over.

Then on, till Rest of India eventually overhauled the target, the only talking point was to see whether Saha would raise his maiden double-hundred. Pujara didn’t cut loose to ensure Saha got to the landmark with a pristine boundary off offie Karan Patel through covers with RoI just four runs away from win. Pujara then completed the formalities with a lofted boundary over Hardik’s head.

Man of the match: Wriddhiman Saha