Bengaluru, January 28: Riding on centuries from Cheteshwar Pujara (131 not out) and Sheldon Jackson (100), Saurashtra beat Karnataka by five wickets to enter the finals of Ranji Trophy where they will take on defending champions Vidarbha.
Pujara who scored his 49th first-class hundred, added a match-winning 214 runs with Jackson for the fourth wicket to steer Saurashtra home after the visitors were in a spot of bother at 24 for three, chasing 279.
Resuming at their overnight score of 224 for three at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Saurashtra knocked off the remaining runs despite the loss of Jackson and Aarpit Vasavada (12).
Prerak Mankad brought up the winning runs with a glorious drive down the ground in a thrilling semifinal tie, that was marred by poor umpiring.
Pujara himself was the beneficiary on the fourth day of the match when he was given not out after clearly appearing to have nicked one from Vinay Kumar to wicketkeeper Shrinivas Sharath when the Saurashtra score was 23 for three.
The TV replays replays clearly showed that Pujara had edged it, but it was not Karnataka's day as the match slipped out of their hands after that.
As the stumps were drawn on the penultimate day and players started leaving the ground, angry home fans booed Pujara by shouting 'cheater' 'cheater'.
But Pujara remained unfazed as he grinded out the opposition bowling after that, scoring 17 boundaries in his innings which lasted 266 balls to help his team reach their third Ranji Trophy final in the last seven years.
The 31-year-old, who was the batting star in India's maiden Test series triumph Down Under earlier this month said now he was keen on helping Saurashtra win their maiden domestic title.
"All of us are excited. Winning the Ranji Trophy title is something that all of us are looking forward to. We were in the final twice, this time we have a good opportunity to win the final. We have a good team. Hopefully, we will continue the good performance and not worry too much about the final and play our normal games," Pujara said.
The final will be held at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur from February 3 to 7.