Ranji Trophy: Umpires, Pujara take Saurashtra close to final

India international Cheteshwar Pujara scores crucial century amid another reprieve to put Saurashtra in course for victory in the Ranji Trophy 2018-19 semifinal.

Cheteshwar Pujara remained unbeaten on 108 at the end of fourth day's play.   -  Sudhakara Jain

Umpires officiating in domestic cricket matches in India have often received flak for howlers. The second semifinal between Karnataka and Saurashtra at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here will be remembered for the gaffes.

Setting a target of 279, the Karnataka pacers were on top of their game in the first session on day four. Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun had dismissed Harvik Desai, Snell Patel and Vishvaraj Jadeja early which set the stage for Cheteshwar Pujara, who batted for 358 minutes to score 108 off 216 balls (14x4) eventually.

Saurashtra ended at 224/3, needing 55 more on day five.

Two umpiring blunders, in the 14th over and 25th over respectively, allowed Pujara and Sheldon Jackson to pull their side back into the game.

KAR vs SAU, Day 4: Highlights

Pujara started with a positive intent, finding a boundary every 12 balls on an average. He played out 126 balls for a fifty to tick the first small target.

In reality, he was over in 71 balls.

Two early wickets upfront and a raging Vinay swinging the ball from middle and leg – with a full day to spare – tested his nerves.

Since Cheteshwar Pujara is a big India player, the juniors revolve around him to get help. He also helps people who bat with him. He understands who needs to bat in which position. Even after losing three early wickets, the dressing room knew that we needed that one partnership to get back into the game. We wanted Pujara and Sheldon Jackson to play out the day — Saurashtra spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja

The caught-behind reprieve, Pujara’s second in the match, off Vinay turned the game. The breakthrough could have crushed Saurashtra in the next one hour as Pujara was batting only on 34. The errors reduced in the course of the innings.

Jackson, who remained unbeaten on 90 off 205 balls (13x4), won a life when he was on 3. Ronit More had trapped him leg-before. The right-hander hadn’t gone behind the line and it was clearly hitting the leg-stump.

Pujara special fours:

  • Abhimanyu Mithun to Pujara: A wider delivery. Pujara rises with the bounce to cut it through covers.
  • Vinay to Pujara: A half volley on the pads. Pujara flicks it through the backward square leg region.
  • Ronit More to Pujara: An off-stump delivery. Pujara opens the face of the bat to guide it through the slip cordon.
  • Mithun to Pujara: Mithun pitches it up. Pujara goes for a handsome on-drive.

 

In the first session, it took Saurashtra only six balls (12 overall) to clinch the remaining two Karnataka wickets for two more runs.

Slow left-arm orthodox bowler Dharmendrasinh Jadeja dismissed Shreyas Gopal 61 off 138 (4x1, 2x6) in the third ball of his first over. It spun around the leg stump and Gopal couldn’t control the bounce. He ended up offering a sitter to Arpit Vasavada at silly point.

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Jadeja earned his fifth scalp in the final delivery. The arm ball skid through, without much turn, to trap Ronit More 0 off 3 in front of his stumps.

Mithun remained unbeaten on 37 off 92 balls (4x4).

Going by early morning dismissals since day one, one can't entirely rule out the host. Two wickets, in the first five to seven minutes, could bring Karnataka back into the game.

Brief scores: Karnataka 275 & 239 (S Gopal 61, M Agarwal 46; D Jadeja 5/78); Saurashtra 236 & 224-3 (C Pujara 108*, S Jackson 90*; V Kumar 2/48).