Medium pacer Chintan Gaja grabbed a fifer to lead Gujarat’s fight-back after they conceded a 52-run first-innings lead against Saurashtra on the third day of their Ranji Trophy semi-final here on Monday.
Gaja (5/15) reduced Saurashtra to 66 for 5 in their second essay at the end of the day three as the hosts took an overall lead of 118 at the SCA Stadium in Khandheri.
The 25-year-old Ahmedabad-born Gaja bowled in the right areas and was handsomely rewarded for his efforts.
His scalps included Harvik Desai (0), Kishan Parmar (0), Avi Barot (1), Vishwaraj Jadeja (6) and first-innings centurion Sheldon Jackson (0) to reduced Saurashtra to 15 for 5.
But an experienced Arpit Vasavada (23 not out) and Chetan Sakariya (32 not out) stood tall against the Gujarat bowlers till stumps were drawn.
This was after the hosts, who had posted 304, bundled out Gujarat for 252 in their first essay.
Gujarat was reeling at 155 for 8 at one stage in their first innings, but then Rujul Bhatt (71 off 212 balls) and Gaja (61 off 103 balls) joined hands to bail their side out by adding 87 runs for the eighth wicket.
It was Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Unadkat (3/86), who broke the stand by dismissing Bhatt, caught by Avi Barot.
Bhatt’s dismissal paved way for the hosts to take the first-innings lead.
Earlier in the morning, Saurashtra’s Chirag Jani gave Gujarat a double blow after removing overnight batsman Axar Patel (21) and Roosh Kalaria (0) in quick succession.
But a determined Bhatt, who stuck six boundaries, stood in their way. He found an able partner in Gaja, whose knock was laced with six boundaries and four hits over the fence.
Gujarat took lunch at 211 for 8, still adrift by 93 runs.
The duo raised Gujarat’s hopes of taking the first-innings lead before Unadkat broke the stand.
Saurashtra will have to bat deep on the fourth day to post a competitive target for Gujarat.
Brief Scores: Saurashtra 304 and 66/5 (Chetan Sakariya 32 batting, Chintan Gaja 5/15) v/s Gujarat 252 (Rujul Bhatt 71, Chintan Gaja 61; Jaydev Unadkat 3-86). Saurashtra lead by 118 runs.