Bengaluru, Jan 28: Cheteshwar Pujara struck a masterly unbeaten 131 as Saurashtra stormed into the finals of the Ranji Trophy tournament defeating eight times champions Karnataka by five wickets before lunch on the fifth and final day’s play at M Chinnaswamy stadium here on Monday.
Gaining a clear upper hand on day-four with Pujara’s century, Saurashtra resuming at overnight total of 224 for 3, easily achieved the target making 279 for 5 in just over one hour play today.
Pujara, who won the Man of the Match award, added a match saving 214-run partnership with Sheldon Jackson (100) resumed at his overnight score of 108 and caressed the Karnataka bowlers with ease in the morning to give his home team a third chance to gain its maiden title. Saurashtra is yet to win the title in the history of Ranji Trophy.
The India number 3 star batsman struck 17 boundaries in his 266 ball innings. Jackson who gave able company struck 15 fours in his 217 ball essay.
Karnataka pacer Vinay Kumar was the most successful bowler for the home team in the Saurashtra second innings claiming 3 for 75.
Saurashtra will meet Vidarbha in the final starting February 3.
Pujara said that the team believed that it can win this match and the batting partnerships were crucial. ’’Once the ball gets old, it's easier to bat and that's what happened. We are doing well, especially in the fourth innings. Little disappointed with the way we batted in the first innings. Credit goes to our bowlers the way they bowled in the second innings. We were confident of chasing it down. We have a good team, we'll look to continue the same performance. We'll try to play the final like a normal game,’’ he added after the match.
A disappointed Karnataka captain Manish Pandey said from day one, Karnataka fought hard while Saurashtra also played well and gave a lot of fight.
“Credit to them, the way they batted; lot of grit,’’ he said about the performance of Pujara.
Manish said unfortunately the result went against his team as couple of (umpiring) decisions and a couple of performances from the home side, it should would have been standing differently today. ‘’But, I'm quite happy with the way we fought. Shreyas batted really well. Overall, lot of good performances from our side. We'll look to learn from our mistakes. Lot of match-winners. It's all about the close battles, sometimes it doesn't work our way,’’ he added. (UNI)