Ranji Trophy Semifinal: Gaja leads the Gujarat fight after granting the advantage in the first inning

RAJKOT: medium pacemaker Chintan Gaja grabbed a room to lead Gujarat counterattack after they conceded a 52-run lead in the first innings against Saurashtra on the third day of his Ranji Trophy semifinal 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.

Gaja, 25, born in Ahmedabad, played in the right areas and was generously rewarded for his efforts.

His scalps included Harvik Desai (0), Kishan Parmar (0), Avi Barot (1), Vishwaraj Jadeja (6) and centurion of the first entry. Sheldon jackson (0) to reduce 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 of 212 balls) and Gaja (61 of 103 balls) joined to rescue at his side by adding 87 runs for the ninth wicket.

It was Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Unadkat (3/86), who broke the stand by dismissing Bhatt, caught by Avi Barot.

Bhatt's dismissal paved the way for the hosts to take the lead in the first inning.

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 rapid succession.

But a certain Bhatt, who crossed six boundaries, got in his way. He found a capable partner in Gaja, whose blow was tied with six limits and four strokes on 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) vs Gujarat 252 (Rujul Bhatt 71, Chintan Gaja 61; Jaydev Unadkat 3-86). Saurashtra lead by 118 runs.

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