Saurashtra were on the brink of booking a place in the Ranji Trophy finals on the back of a unbeaten 201-run partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara (108*) and Sheldon Jackson (90*) for the fourth wicket at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday.
Chasing 279, Saurashtra were at 224/3 at the close of play and need just 55 runs for victory with seven wickets in hand. Pujara scored his 49th first-class century while Jackson was ten short of registering his 16th as the home side wilted in the final session. While Pujara picked up from where he left in Australia during the Border-Gavaskar series, poor umpiring decisions saved him twice in quick succession.
Pujara had not even reached the half-century mark when pacers Abhimanyu Mithun and Vinay Kumar were hard done by. On both occasions, the ball got a thick edge of Pujara’s bat but Karnataka’s appeals for a caught behind were turned down, much to the chargin of the fielding side. The TV replays clearly showed that Pujara had edged as the match slipped out of Karnataka’s hands after that. The two batsmen did not offer any chance to Karnataka bowlers, gradually taking it away from the hosts.
Kumar and Mithun had given Karnataka a dream start, combining to remove three Saurashtra wickets with just 23 on the board.
Pujara has faced 216 balls for his 108-run knock which has 14 fours. As the stumps were drawn and players started leaving the ground, angry home fans booed Pujara by shouting ‘cheater’ ‘cheater’, reported PTI.
Saurashtra are looking to earn in a place in the final in Ranji Trophy for the third time in the last seven years.