Saurashtra enters Ranji Trophy semis after record-breaking chase

Saurashtra broke the Ranji Trophy's previous highest run chase record of 371 set by Assam against Services in the 2008-09 season.

Cheteshwar Pujara (in picture) and Sheldon Jackson applied the finishing touches to Saurashtra's record-breaking win.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

A maiden first-class century from Harvik Desai helped Saurashtra pull off the highest run chase in Ranji Trophy history, beating Uttar Pradesh by six wickets to enter the semifinals at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Stadium in Lucknow on Saturday.

Opener Desai was well-supported by Snell Patel (72), Cheteshwar Pujara (67 not out) and Sheldon Jackson (73 not out) as Saurashtra pulled off the 372-run chase in 115.1 overs. And it thus broke the previous highest run chase record of 371 set by Assam against Services in the 2008-09 season.

Saurashtra will face Karnataka in the semifinals, while Vidarbha will lock horns with Kerala in the other last four match.

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Starting the day at 195 for two, still 177 adrift, Desai started brightly for Saurashtra. But he soon lost his partner Kamlesh Makvana for 7, dismissed by Yash Dayal. The wicket hardly had any effect on Desai as he maintained his aggression and scored 20 of his 33 runs on the day through boundaries.

Desai, however, was dismissed by Saurabh Kumar who had been wicketless in the match till then. The 19-year-old nicked one to the Uttar Pradesh wicketkeeper and walked back after scoring 116 runs with the help of 16 boundaries.

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With Saurashtra still needing 136 runs and Desai gone, Uttar Pradesh's hopes were up it decided to take the new ball after 85 overs.

But Pujara and Jackson batted sensibly. The UP seamers drew a couple of outside edges but they all fell well short of the slip fielders.Pujara, who had struggled in the first innings, looked solid in defence and authoritative in his shot-making as he and Jackson took Saurashtra to 298 for four at lunch.

With wickets not coming their way, the UP players looked dispirited after lunch and Saurashtra clinched the win just an hour into the second session.

Brief Scores:

Uttar Pradesh: 385 & 194 vs Saurashtra: 208 & 372 for 4 in 115.1 overs (Harvik Desai 116, Sheldon Jackson 73 not out, Snell Patel 72, Cheteshwar Pujara 67 not out; Akashdeep Nath 1/17).