Merai, Venugopal hit tons to give Gujarat three points

Ahmedabad: Bhargav Merai (198) missed out on what would have been his maiden double-hundred by a mere two runs while Venugopal Rao struck 111 as Gujarat produced a fine batting display to overhaul Haryana`s first innings total and earn three points from their drawn Ranji Trophy Group A match here Tuesday.

Gujarat scored 578 for eight, five more than Haryana`s first innings 573 for 6 declared with number 10 Rujul Bhatt batting with an injury before retiring hurt on 26 on the fourth and final day.

Resuming the day on 314 for 4 with Merai on 115 and Rao on 64, Gujarat added 264 runs in 75 overs and lost four wickets at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera.

The home side eased past 400 as Merai crossed 150 and Rao scored his 14th first-class hundred. But their massive 256-run stand ended when Rao was trapped lbw for 111. Manpreet Juneja did not survive for too long as he also fell to off-spinner Jayant Yadav, leaving the score at 437 for 6, still 136 behind.

Akshar Patel steadied the innings as Merai headed towards his double-ton, but fell short by two runs when he was bowled by Amit Mishra.

Akshar and Rakesh Dhurv then took Gujarat past 500 but Mishra halted their charge by getting rid of Dhurv for 17. Bhatt, who had injured himself while fielding on the second day and had not taken the field since, joined Akshar with two fractured fingers. He battled for more than an hour, faced 56 deliveries and scored a vital 26 runs which took Gujarat past Haryana`s 573 after which Bhatt retired hurt.

Akshar stayed unbeaten on 69 off 98, which featured nine fours.

Gujarat collected three points by virtue of taking the first innings lead while Haryana got one.

Brief Score:

Gujarat: 578 for 8 (Merai 198, Rao 111, Akshar Patel 69 not out; Amit Mishra 4/169) drew with Haryana 573 for 6 dec.

Points: Gujarat 3, Haryana 1.

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