The Big Picture
Defiance. Relentless.Passion. Raw emotion. Controversy. History. These are the few adjectives that come to mind while I write as to what happened in the Ranji Trophy semi-finals.
While the first semi-final was one-sided with Vidarbha flexing their muscles against Kerala, courtesy a relentless Umesh Yadav, the second game between Karnataka and Saurashtra was pure Box Office.
Here's how the action unfolded in the Ranji Trophy 2018-19 Semi-finals:-
Relentless Umesh steer Vidarbha to an emphatic win over Kerala
Defending champions Vidarbha steamrolled Kerala to give themselves a shot at retaining their Ranji Trophy title courtesy a relentless bowling effort- spearheaded by Umesh Yadav.
Vidarbha's decision to put Kerela in was vindicated by a stupendous bowling effort from Umesh Yadav, whose spell of 7-48 skittled the latter out for 106 in a mere 28.4 overs. Kerala was always up against it after they had conceded a 102-run lead in the first innings thanks to Faiz Fazal's patient 75.
They fared even worse in their second essay as the duo of Umesh Yadav [5-31] and Yash Thakur [4-28] ran through their batting line-up, capitulating for 91 to hand Vidarbha a ticket to the summit clash.
Vidarbha [208, Faiz Fazal 75, Sandeep Warrier 5-57] beat Kerala [106, Vishnu Vinod 37, Umesh Yadav 7-48 & 91, Arun Karthik, Umesh Yadav 5-31] by an innings & 11 runs
Pujara, Jackson defy Karnataka to set-up the summit clash against Vidarbha
In an era of #Tenyears challenge, Cheteshwar Pujara completed a ten-year challenge of his own. Just over ten years ago, the India No.3 had helped Saurashtra chase down 325 against Karnataka in the quarter-finals of the Ranji Trophy,
On Monday, albeit with some luck, he did an encore as his unbeaten 131 [266 balls] helped Saurashtra pip Karnataka to set-up the summit clash against the defending champions, Vidarbha.
The right-hander batted for over 600 minutes, and along with Sheldon Jackson  stiched a 214-run stand for the fourth wicket after Saurashtra had been reduced to 3-23 while chasing 278.
This happened after Karnataka batted first, and on the back of half-centuries from Manish Pandey , Shreyas Gopal  and Sharath  posted 275 in their first innings. In reply, Saurashtra underperformed as none of their batters including Pujara , Jackson  and Vasavada  failed to cash-in on their starts. Wicket-keeper Snell Patel scored a 131-ball 85 but a lower-order collapse saw Saurasthra lose their last six wickets for 13 runs and concede a lead of 39.
Mayank Agarwal  and Shreya Gopal , who scored his second half-century of the match helped Karnataka post a target of 278, which at 3-23, looked well out of reach for Saurashtra.
The match had its fair of controversies, courtesy horrific umpiring. Pujara was lucky when the umpire did not raise his finger when it was clearly evident that he had edged the ball. But, as they say, it is up to you to make the most of your luck, and Pujara certainly did that, by taking his side one step closer to history.
Karnataka [275, Gopal 87, Unadkat 4-56 & 239, Gopal 61, Jadeja 5-78] lost to Saurashtra [236, Snell Patel 85, Ronit More 6-60 & 5-279, Pujara 131*, Jackson 100, Vinay KumAR 3-75] by five wickets