Saurashtra secured a place in the Ranji Trophy final for the fifth time in the history of the tournament, defeating Karnataka by four wickets at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday.
The 2019-20 edition champions scored the required 115 runs for victory on the fifth and final day of the semifinal match to set up a title showdown with Bengal. It will be a repeat of the 2019-20 summit clash, where Bengal had finished second best.
Saurashtra skipper Arpit Vasavada, following his match-altering double century in the first innings that helped the team to a mammoth 527, played another polished knock of unbeaten 47 just when the Karnataka bowlers had reduced the team to 42/5 in the second innings.
With Karnataka looking poised to defend a paltry 100-plus total on home turf and Krishnappa Gowtham (3/38) and Vasuki Koushik (3/32) on fire, the 34-year-old Vasavada remained calm under trying circumstances to guide his side to a hard-fought win in 34.2 overs.
Karnataka, whose first innings had folded up at 407 after which Saurashtra slammed 527 to take the crucial first-innings lead, started day five at 123/4 with their in-form batter Nikin Jose on 54.
The young batter, who came at the fall of Devdutt Padikkal in the final session on Saturday, shared a century partnership with captain Mayank Agarwal (55) and guided his team to 114.
But, thereafter, the 22-year-old couldn’t find a partner who could stick around with him and put up a fighting total on the board.
Karnataka’s second innings wound up at 234 in 58.2 overs, with some of their key batters like Ravikumar Samarth, Padikkal, Manish Pandey and Shreyas Gopal departing at single-digit scores.
India white-ball player Chetan Sakariya did the maximum damage with his left-arm medium-pace bowling, returning with figures of 4/49 in 11 overs, while Saurashtra’s veteran left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja kept rattling the home team batters to also return a four-wicket haul.
Saurashtra, however, made heavy weather of the paltry 115-run winning target, with the entire top and middle order being wiped out by Karnataka bowlers Gowtham and Koushik.
Finally, a 63-run partnership between captain Vasavada and Sakariya took the 2019-20 Ranji champions within sniffing distance of victory, before the latter departed at 24.
Vasavada and new batter Prerak Mankad (7 not out) ensured no more hiccups as Saurashtra set up a title clash with Bengal.
Vasavada was adjudged “Player of the Match” for his composed 202 off 406 balls in the first innings and a match-winning 51-ball 47 under trying circumstances in the second innings.
Karnataka 407 and 234 (Mayank Agarwal 55, Nikin Jose 109; Chetan Sakariya 4/45, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 4/79, Parth Bhut 2/57) lost to Saurashtra 527 and 117/6 in 34.2 overs (Arpit Vasavada 47; Krishnappa Gowtham 3/38, Vasuki Koushik 3/32) by four wickets.