After dismissing Maharashtra for 366, chases down target of 157 for the loss of three wickets

The moment of reckoning finally dawned on them after 14 long seasons. And while seizing the moment, the Karnataka players ensured that they would not be denied their shot at glory by completing a seven-wicket win over two-time champion Maharashtra at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Sunday to win the Ranji trophy for the seventh time.

With Maharashtra resuming at 272 for six, Karnataka captain Vinay Kumar had preferred pace for most of the morning session, clearly in no mood to give away easy runs. But it was when he brought on 20-year-old leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal that things started happening; the latter did not disappoint his captain, sending back Srikant Mundhe (42, 75b, 3x4), who was beginning to look dangerous, and Akshay Darekar (13) in quick succession.

Thereafter, the Maharashtra innings ended quickly setting Karnataka a chase of 157; it was the last four wickets that had yielded 98 of those.

As expected, caution was the watchword as Karnataka set off in pursuit.

But once the openers Robin Uthappa and Lokesh Rahul got a feel of the pitch, which showed no signs of serious wear and tear even on the fifth day, they opened up.

Rahul hit off-spinner Chirag Khurana for a huge six and then square-cut him to the fence to send the message to his team that there was nothing to fear from the pitch.

Later, first-innings centurion Ganesh Satish flicked left-arm medium-pacer Samad Fallah to the fence, and sent left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar sailing over long-on for a huge six to demonstrate how fourth-innings batting could be approached on a track like this.

The finish was as spectacular as Karnataka’s campaign this season. It was fittingly Karun Nair who brought up victory hitting a four and a six off Khurana to trigger off celebrations by his teammates.

The last time Karnataka won the national championship was in 1999 when it defeated Madhya Pradesh in the final.

It was obvious that the target was too small for Maharashtra to defend against a formidable batting line-up on such a track where the batsman’s only challenge was shot-selection.

Karnataka collected the winner’s purse of Rs.2 crore and the trophy from BCCI vice-president N. Shivlal Yadav, while runner-up Maharashtra picked Rs. 1 crore.

Lokesh Rahul was named ‘Man-of-the-Match’.

The scores:

Maharashtra —1st innings: 305.

Karnataka —1st innings: 515.

Maharashtra —2nd innings: Harshad Khadiwale c Ganesh b Vinay 9, Vijay Zol c Gautam b Vinay 31, Ankit Bawne st. Gautam b Gopal 61, Kedar Jadhav c Uthappa b Vinay 112, Sangram Atitkar c Amit b Gopal 0, Chirag Khurana c Uthappa b Vinay 37, Rohit Motwani c Gautam b Mithun 21, Srikant Mundhe c Gautam b Gopal 42, Anupam Sanklecha c Nair b Mithun 14, Akshay Darekar c Uthappa b Gopal 13, Samad Fallah (not out) 2, Extras (b-6, lb-4, w-11, nb-3) 24; Total (in 91.2 overs) 366.

Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-54, 3-172, 4-174, 5-262, 6-268, 7-307, 8-338, 9-362.

Karnataka bowling: Vinay Kumar 29-1-116-4, Abhimanyu Mithun 22-1-77-2, Sreenath Aravind 21-0-67-0, Robin Uthappa 2-0-15-0, Manish Pandey 2-0-14-0, Shreyas Gopal 13.2-1-47-4, Amit Verma 2-0-20-0.

Karnataka — 2nd innings: Robin Uthappa c Khurana b Akshay Darekar 36, Lokesh Rahul c Khurana b Srikant Mundhe 29, Amit Verma c&b Chirag Khurana 38, Manish Pandey (not out) 28, Karun Nair (not out) 20, Extras (b-1, lb-2, nb-3) 6; Total (for three wickets in 40.5 overs) 157.

Fall of wickets: 1-65, 2-87, 3-120.

Maharashtra bowling: Samad Fallah 11-2-28-0, Anupam Sanklecha 3-2-7-0, Akshay Darekar 10-0-46-1, Chirag Khurana 8.5-0-53-1, Srikant Mundhe 8-1-20-1.

Man-of-the-Match: Lokesh Rahul.

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