Cricket

Undefeated Pujara takes Saurashtra to Ranji Trophy final

Cheteshwar Pujara and Sheldon Jackson in action on the fourth day of Ranji Trophy semifinal against Karnataka at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday 27 January 2019.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Sheldon Jackson in action on the fourth day of Ranji Trophy semifinal against Karnataka at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday 27 January 2019.

It took Saurashtra just an hour and a half on the fifth morning to knock off the 55 runs it needed to seal its place in the Ranji Trophy final.

There were no hiccups and no surprises as the visitor cruised to the target of 279, defeating Karnataka by five wickets at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Cheteshwar Pujara remained unbeaten on 131, having spent 449 minutes at the crease. His overnight partner, Sheldon Jackson, fell one ball after completing his hundred, bowled by R. Vinay Kumar.

The veteran bowler fought with as much enthusiasm as he could muster, and took particular delight in Jackson's dismissal.

Arpit Vasavada fell for 12, caught fending to forward-short-leg, but the result was a mere formality at that stage.

“We believed in ourselves,” Pujara said later.

“The partnership (of 214 runs with Jackson) was crucial because when we were 23 for three, we were under pressure.

“Looking at the wicket, I thought once the ball was old it would be good to bat on."

His side will now face Vidarbha for the title, from February 3 in Nagpur.

It marks a third final in six years for Saurashtra, which is still looking for its first Ranji Trophy win.

"We were a bit desperate to win the title in those finals (2013 and 2016),” said captain Jaydev Unadkat. "The atmosphere is pretty different now. We've got a very young side, compared to what we had then. We are really eager to win it this time but we are not afraid of losing it.

“We've beaten Vidarbha this season on first-innings lead. So that's going to play on their minds and we'd like to capitalise on that."

Saurashtra has every reason to be confident heading into the final. After completing a record-breaking run-chase of 372 in the quarterfinals, the side showed it was no fluke by producing another fine fourth-innings effort here. Pujara's role in both victories was vital.

An asset

"The way he approached this game, or even the last game, he wants it more than any of us," said Unadkat of his senior colleague. "That's one thing I really love about him. It doesn't matter what game or what level it is. He just wants to be out there and win it for the team.

“He's helping me in the field, helping other batsmen on how to approach the game. We're lucky to have him in the team."

Karnataka will not disagree.

The scores:

Karnataka — 1st innings: 275.

Saurashtra — 1st innings: 236.

Karnataka — 2nd innings: 239.

Saurashtra — 2nd innings: Harvik Desai c Siddharth b Mithun 9, Snell Patel c Sharath b Vinay 0, Vishvaraj Jadeja lbw b Vinay 0, Cheteshwar Pujara (not out) 131, Sheldon Jackson b Vinay 100, Arpit Vasavada c Siddharth b More 12, Prerak Mankad (not out) 4; Extras (b-5, lb-9, nb-2, w-7): 23. Total (for five wkts. in 91.4 overs): 279.

Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-3, 3-23, 4-237, 5-274.

Karnataka bowling: Vinay 25-2-75-3, Mithun 17-4-46-1, More 22.4-7-57-1, Siddharth 2-1-1-0, Gowtham 16-3-48-0, Shreyas 6-0-29-0, Samarth 3-0-9-0.


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Printable version | Sep 25, 2022 12:21:05 am | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/undefeated-pujara-takes-saurashtra-to-ranji-trophy-final/article26111096.ece