Ranji Trophy: Vidarbha smells victory in thrilling climax

The semifinal at Eden Gardens is poised on a knife edge, with Karnataka requiring 87 runs to win with three wickets in hand on the final day.

Vidarbha’s Rajneesh Gurbani (centre) celebrates the dismissal of Karun Nair with his team-mates on Day Four at Eden Gardens.   -  PTI

A brilliant Vidarbha shoved Karnataka into deep water in their Ranji Trophy semifinal fixture here on Wednesday. The match is poised on a knife edge, with Karnataka requiring 87 runs to win with three wickets in hand on the final day.

Chasing a tricky 198, Karnataka slipped to 111 for seven. The Vidarbha pacers – led by Rajneesh Gurbani (four for 35) – reaped the rewards of keeping the ball full on a lively Eden Gardens pitch. Deliveries darted in and out, completely befuddling the Karnataka batsmen. Skipper Vinay Kumar (19 batting) and Shreyas Gopal (1 batting) were only too happy to accept the umpire's offer of light.


Shreyas was lucky to return unbeaten, as Wasim Jaffer dropped a sitter at first slip off Umesh Yadav.

Opener Mayank Agarwal was the first to go, with Umesh taking a low, one-handed catch in the third over. D. Nischal looked completely out of sorts during his 44-ball 7, and nicked Siddhesh Neral to the wicket-keeper.

R. Samarth (24, 75b) was shocked when umpire Pashchim Pathak upheld a leg-before appeal, showing his bat to indicate that he had got an inside edge. This was not Pathak's first debatable call this match. Stuart Binny was given out leg-before when the ball dipped in a long way.

As it happened: Ranji Trophy semifinals, Day Four

C. M. Gautam (24, 53b), out caught behind, gestured that he had made no contact.

There were, however, no complaints when Gurbani induced a big edge from Karun Nair. The first-innings centurion once again seemed set for a long knock, but Gurbani foxed him with a classical out-swinger. With prize scalp and Karnataka mainstay Karun gone for 30, the Vidarbha side sensed a dramatic upset victory on the cards.

Wagging tail

In the morning session, Vidarbha added 118 runs to its overnight tally, to finish on 313. Aditya Sarwate (55, 92b) and Umesh (13, 14b) added 38 runs for the ninth wicket, while Aditya and Gurbani put on a 30 runs for the 10th wicket. The Karnataka bowlers were punished for not attacking the stumps when Umesh and Gurbani took strike. Sarwate, meanwhile, shepherded the tailenders efficiently.

After seeing his team-mates struggle to get the job done, Vinay brought himself on. Vinay trapped Sarwate on the pads (he too was dissatisfied when Pathak raised the finger ) off his very first ball.

Ganesh Satish, who started the day on 71, did not survive for long. The former Karnataka player displayed poor shot selection when he hooked A. Mithun’s bouncer to deep fine-leg.

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