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Monday, December 29, 2008

Cheteshwar Pujara special floors Karnataka

Cheteshwar Pujara struck a significant second innings century as Saurashtra pipped fancied Karnataka by five wickets to advance into the semifinals of the Ranji Trophy. At the CCI here on Monday, the batting sensation in the domestic cricket was assisted by some timely knocks from teammates Sitanshu Kotak, Ravindra Jadeja and Jaydev Shah as the underdogs humbled the former champions in a sensational comeback.

With 315 to get in 90 overs on Day IV, Saurashtra showed character in chasing a not-so-easy target on a bowler-friendly wicket. Pujara hit a brilliant unbeaten 112 while Kotak (87), Jadeja (55) and Jaydev Shah (55 n.o.) chipped in with some handsome contributions. Saurashtra were also aided by other factors as well — Karnataka’s sloppy fielding and listless bowling.

Resuming the day at 10-2, Saurashtra lost the wicket of Bhushan Chauhan early in the day. They were reduced to 13 for 3, but from thereon, Pujara and Kotak took the game away from Karnataka. Pujara remained unbeaten, ensuring that his side was through to last four. Initially, Pujara and Kotak tried to keep wickets in tact. The duo stitched together a crucial 163-run fourth-wicket stand. After Kotak was dismissed, Jadeja and Shah opened up to ensure a facile win.

Jadeja announced his arrival with a boundary. His intentions were pretty clear that he would go after the bowling. After Jadeja’s departure, Shah took the mantle of accelerating and saw his team notching up 325 in the final session. Kotak was shown the door by Chandrasekhar Raghu. The spinner took a simple catch off his own bowling after the batsman failed to judge a slower one. His 87 came off 147 balls, which included 12 fours. But that did not change the complexion as Jadeja looked in sublime touch from the very beginning.

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