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Merai cracks first ton of season to rescue Gujarat


Mumbai : Bhargav Merai slammed his first century of the Ranji Trophy season to rescue Gujarat along with Axar Patel on day three of the four-day Group B match at the Wankhede Stadium here today.

Coming to the crease yesterday when the visitors had lost two quick wickets to be 53 for 3, the Surat-born batsman kept the Mumbai attack at bay for the whole day today with an unbeaten knock of 150 to help Gujarat reply with 355 for 7 to the hosts’ mammoth first innings total of 531.

The 23-year-old right hander, reprieved soon after he arrived at the crease yesterday when a rampaging Shardul Thakur dropped him off his own bowling after taking wickets in successive overs, was watchful through his marathon 506-minute innings that contained 13 fours in 315 balls.

In the process, Merai also completed the fourth first class century of his career as Gujarat, seeking at least the first innings points to qualify for the quarter finals, were 176 runs adrift of the 40-time champions at stumps.

Giving company to Merai, who got involved in an innings-reviving partnership of 155 runs in 310 balls with India ODI player Axar Patel (88 with ten fours), at close was Ramesh Powar (0).

Axar and Merai, who came together after Gujarat lost two wickets this morning to the medium pace of Badre Alam, staved off the home team attack – after coming together at the fall of skipper Parthiv Patel’s wicket at 139 – for 212 minutes.

Axar was dismissed driving at covers by Mumbai’s main strike bowler Shardul after the second new ball was taken at 261 for 5 after 95 overs.

Merai survived a very confident caught behind appeal when on 88 before completing his century in 330 minutes and 220 balls. He also added 59 runs for the seventh wicket with Rush Kalaria (24).

Barring Shardul, and to a lesser extent Alam, the Mumbai attack looked toothless and the spin bowlers did not look threatening at all, food for thought for the ex-champions before the knock-out rounds, for which they have qualified, begin.

Brief scores: Mumbai 531. Gujarat 355 for 7 (P Panchal 36, B Merai not out 150, R Bhatt 31, Axar Patel 88; S Thakur 4 for 75, B Alam 2 for 67).

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