Gujarat skipper Parthiv Patel missed out on a well deserved century but not before helping his side earn a vital first innings lead against Rajasthan on the penultimate day of their Group 'A' Ranji Trophy match on Monday.
Patel fell for 92 with the hosts still needing six runs to overhaul Rajasthan's first innings total of 294 but the final-wicket pair of Kushang Patel (26) and Bhavesh Baria (1) stuck around in the middle to pretty much guarantee three points for Gujarat.
With the match heading for a draw, Rajasthan would have to be satisfied with one point.
Gujarat's first innings lasted for 312 which helped them gain an 18-run lead over the visitors at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera.
At stumps, Rajasthan were 29 for two in 16.5 overs in their second essay with Robin Bist (7 batting) at the crease. After opener Sourabh Chouhan (6) was run out by Rakesh Dhurv, Vineet Saxena (16) fell in the last over of the day as the visitors face a tough task going into the final day's play.
Earlier, resuming their first innings at 104 for one, Gujarat's two overnight batsmen, Samit Gohel (63) and Bhargav Merai (40), fell in the morning session to pacer Rituraj Singh.
Venugopal Rao (9) and Manpreet Juneja (0) too departed in quick succession as Gujarat were left reeling at 178 for five with Patel holding one end firmly as wickets tumbled at the other.
With Gujarat still 103-run adrift of Rajasthan's first-innings total, Patel took the onus on himself of guiding the team out of the woods and stood tall amid the ruins.
He first stitched a 35-run partnership with Rujul Bhatt (5) for the sixth wicket and added another 23 runs for the seventh wicket with Dhruv (12).
Rush Kalaria (9) became the eighth wicket to fall at 247 with Gujarat still 47 runs behind the visitors' 294.
But Patel and Kushang shared a 42-run stand for the ninth wicket and took Gujarat within sniffing distance of the first innings score.
(File photo: Parthiv Patel)