Ranji Trophy: Ton-up Pujara takes Saurashtra to final

Cheteshwar Pujara (131 not out), Sheldon Jackson (100) shine as Saurashtra beats Karnataka by five wickets to set Ranji final date with Vidarbha.

Cheteshwar Pujara scored an unbeaten 123 to help Saurashtra complete the chase against Karnataka and enter the Ranji Trophy final.   -  Sudhakara Jain

Cheteshwar Pujara had completed the task on day four itself. On the fifth day morning, the India international added 23 more runs to remain unbeaten on 131 off 266 balls (17x4) as Saurashtra beat Karnataka by five wickets in the Ranji Trophy semifinal at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

While celebrating the win, chants of ‘Kagiso Rabada’ surprised broadcasters and the media close to the boundary rope. Skipper Jaydev Unadkat solved the mystery saying it is “just one of those fun things” the side picked up from the Mumbai crowd.

Karnataka vs Saurashtra: As it Happened

“It doesn’t make sense at all. It is something that we picked from the Mumbai crowd when we were playing them. They were shouting ‘Kagiso Rabada’ to boost their players maybe. Whenever we have have won after that, our fun-loving guys repeated it,” he said.

Needing 55 to win, Saurashtra took just 106 balls to finish its second consecutive chase of the tournament. It had chased down a massive 372-run target against Uttar Pradesh in the quarterfinal.

MATCH REPORT: Day 1, 2, 3, 4

The Pujara- Sheldon Jackson overnight partnership of 201 runs for the fourth wicket saw 16 more runs this morning. Jackson reached his 100 off 217 balls (15x4) but he was dismissed the very next ball. Vinay Kumar used the variable bounce on the pitch to clean up Jackson on a short of a good length delivery that kept low.

READ: Pujara reprieve likely to reopen DRS debate

Dismissing Pujara could have opened up a half-chance for the host. Vinay came close in the 81st over when the ball seamed in only to touch Pujara’s pants before landing on wicketkeeper Sharath Srinivas’ gloves.

READ: Neutral is the buzzword for knockouts?

The seasoned Karnataka bowler lost the plot in the 85th over with five wide balls.

Next up, Ronit More – who claimed six in the first innings – got Arpit Vasavada 12 off 35 (4x2) off a rib delivery. The ploy worked with a short leg fielder in place. The southpaw failed to ride the bounce and ended up offering a simple catch to Krishnamurthy Siddharth.

But Karnataka had left it too late.

ALSO READ: Ronit More’s epiphany at Chinnaswamy

Brief scores:

 Karnataka 275 & 239 all out (S Gopal 61, M Agarwal 46; D Jadeja 5/78) lost to Saurashtra 236 & 282-5 (C Pujara 131*, S Jackson 100; V Kumar 3/75) by five wickets.

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