Middle-order batsman Chirag Gandhi struck a timely, maiden first-class hundred and remained unbeaten on 136 to lift newly-crowned Ranji Trophy champions Gujarat from deep trouble on day one of the Irani Cup game against the Rest of India at the Brabourne Stadium here on Friday. The 26-year-old batsman, whose previous highest score was 87 made against Uttar Pradesh in October, batted in a forthright manner to remain unconquered in a close of play score of 300 for 8 after coming to the crease just past the hour when Gujarat were 55 for two.
Gandhi struck 18 fours and a six in his 159-ball essay, playing some fine drives and cut shots, even as wickets fell regularly at the other end, mainly to the medium pace attack of Pankaj Singh (3/77) and Siddharth Kaul (4/73).Gujarat, who opted to bat first, were in trouble at lunch at 81 for 3 after the fall of their captain Parthiv Patel for 11 and then losing Dhruv Raval soon after the break before Gandhi and Manpreet Juneja (47) got together to resurrect the floundering innings with a stand of 109.Part-time bowler Akhil Herwadkar broke the fifth-wicket partnership at the stroke of tea by dismissing Juneja with the score on 191 in 60.2 overs after which Gandhi, playing only his 14th first class game, batted with the lower order to take the score to 300 for 8.In the morning, the tall Pankaj trapped opener Samit Gohil for a duck off the sixth ball and then got rid of the other in-form opener Praiyank Panchal through a catch in the slip cordon.Kaul then accounted for Gujarat captain Parthiv, who chopped a ball going away on to his stumps just before lunch and then added the scalp of Raval soon after the interval by inducing a nick to the wicket keeper.Juneja and Gandhi prevented any further damage almost till the end of the second session before Herwadkar was given a bowl and broke the stubborn partnership.At close, Hardik Patel (9) was the other not out batsman with Gandhi. score board GUJARAT (I Innings): Samit Gohel lbw Pankaj 0, Priyank Panchal c Nair b Pankaj 30, Dhruv Raval c Saha b Kaul 39, Parthiv Patel b Kaul, Manpreet Juneja c Pujara b Herwadkar 47, Chirag Gandhi (batting) 136, Karan Patel c Saha b Kaul 13, Mayank Thadani c Tiwary b Kaul 4, Chintan Gaja lbw Pankaj 8, Hardik Patel (batting) 9. Extras (LB-1, W-2) 3. Total (for 8 wkts, 88 overs) 300.Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-55, 3-81, 4-82, 5-191, 6-231, 7-237, 8-261.Bowling: Pankaj Singh 17-4-77-3, Siddarth Kaul 21-3-73-4, Mohammed Siraj 15-5-44-0, Kuldeep Yadav 15-3-51-0, Shahbaz Nadeem 17-2-41-0, Akhil Herwadkar 3-0-13-1.

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