Rest of India 226 (Pujara 86, Gaja 4-60) and 379 for 4 (Saha 203*, Pujara 116*) beat Gujarat 358 (Gandhi 169, Kaul 4-86, Pankaj 4-104) and 246 (Panchal 73, Gandhi 70, Nadeem 4-64, Kaul 3-70) by six wickets
Wriddhiman Saha completed his maiden double-hundred and Cheteshwar Pujara his 37th first-class century to ensure there were no final-day jitters for Rest of India. Saha and Pujara finished with an unbroken stand of 316 and polished off the 113 runs they required inside 20 overs on the fifth morning to seal a six-wicket win.
Gujarat's 132-run lead in the first innings ultimately came to naught. The final act of the game - Pujara coming down the track to loft left-arm spinner Hardik Patel over long off for four - was every bit symbolic as it was a reiteration of Rest of India's approach to the chase.
During the course of his unbeaten 203, Saha also became the first wicketkeeper to score a double-hundred in the Irani Cup and the first batsman to do so in the fourth innings in the competition. Saha, who was named Man of the Match, later said he wanted to play positively from the outset after getting out to a fuller delivery in the first innings.
"I wanted to play my natural game, which is to play attacking shots - and they came off," he said at the presentation ceremony. "The way Pujara batted in both the innings, it didn't seem like he was going to get out. He never held me back from hitting. He just asked me to go for it."
While parallels maybe drawn with Rest of India's chase of 480 last year after they conceded a lead of nearly 300 runs in the first innings, Pujara pointed out that his team's chase began on the wrong note after they lost four wickets for 63 runs. "Probably it wasn't the right [platform]. We wanted to have a good start, but didn't. The way Saha approached the innings made the difference.
"The pace bowlers, all of them, made the difference too. It was a very good team effort, especially getting them out below 400. I think it was a fantastic pitch because there was something in it for the fast bowlers, but if you applied yourself you could score well. Overall I would like to congratulate the Gujarat team. They won the Ranji Trophy and the way they played the Irani Cup was fantastic."
Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel had good words for Saha and Pujara. "Credit should go to Wriddhi and Pujara for the way they played," he said. "We had a great season and we played well in this game as well." Parthiv conceded Gujarat had an inexperienced bowling attack which was better for the experience.
"RP [Singh] had a niggle, Rush [Kalaria] had a niggle and Jassi [Jasprit Bumrah] was obviously going to be missed, so we did not have any option, but to go in with this attack," he said. "When you go in with such attack, you know that there are no expectations. As a captain, mid-game I would have ideally liked to have our main bowlers but these bowlers did a decent job. To get this kind of a batting line-up out for 220 and even in the second innings to get them 60-odd for four was creditable. Somewhere experience does help but I think our bowlers did a good job."
That Pujara played out a maiden in the first over of the day from seamer Mohit Thadani was the ultimate false dawn. Saha didn't get any runs of Chintan Gaja's first three balls in the next over, but whacked the fourth over cover for four. That opened the floodgates as four boundaries came in the next four overs. Once Pujara cut Thadani for four, the target dropped under 100.
Pujara got to 98 off the last ball of the 91st over and had to wait for four overs for his hundred. It eventually came with a shot he has played all match - the square cut, off Ishwar Chaudhaury. For good measure, he followed it up with a boundary off the next delivery. Left-arm spinner Hardik Patel, who was introduced in the 10th over of the day, was welcomed with two fours and six by Saha.
Saha had said on Monday that he was thinking of his 170 during the Duleep Trophy final in 2012. In the 103rd over here, he went one better and completed his double-hundred on the back of a flurry of boundaries. The game was officially sealed by Pujara three balls later.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun