Internet Desk: Young pacer Rajneesh Gurbani’s brilliant spell helped Vidarbha to reach the final of the Ranji Trophy for the very first time as they beat Karnataka by just five runs in a thrilling encounter at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata today.
Gurbani took 12 wickets in the big semifinal, which is his best bowling in first-class cricket was the main reason that Vidarbha are in the finals. They will now face Delhi for the crown.
After picking a five-for in the first innings, Gurbani continued his red hot form in the second innings too as he scalped 7 for 68 to restrict Karnataka who were chasing a target of 198 runs in the second innings.
Starting the day with seven wickets down, Gurbani took the remaining three wickets to seal the deal in favour of Vidarbha.
Needing just three wickets to record the win, Vidarbha started the fifth and final day as favourites on paper but Karnataka’s tail almost did the job, falling just five runs short.
Resuming at the overnight score of 111 for seven, Karnataka depended on Vinay Kumar and Shreyas Gopal to guide the team home.
Known for his fighting qualities in the domestic circuit, Vinay Kumar scored freely in the morning session and looked on course to take his side home but for a greedy cut shot, which would have been the third boundary in that over.
In search of one too many, Vinay (36) went for an ambitious cut off Gurbani in the final delivery of the 50th over only to get an edge which was accepted by Akshay Wadkar behind the stumps with Karnataka still 57 runs short of the target.
With Gopal (24 not out) holding one end up, the lower- order played shots from the other.
After Vinay’s dismissal, Abhimanyu Mithun (33 off 26) took his place and played his strokes to take Karnataka closer but he too couldn’t last long.
But Gopal and Mithun’s 48-run ninth wicket partnership almost did the job for Karnataka.
Gopal needed someone to hold on at the other end but he didn’t get that support as Sreenath Aravind became Gurbani’s third victim of the morning and seventh of the innings as Karnataka feel inches short.
Gurbani’s two wickets in the space of 10 balls snatched victory for Vidarbha.
It has been a memorable season for their final opponents Delhi too as they made the summit clash after 10 long years.
Vidarbha: 185 & 313 vs Karnataka: 301 & 192 all out in 59.1 overs (R Vinay Kumar 36, Abhimanyu Mithun 33, Karun Nair 30; Rajneesh Gurbani 7/68).