Ranji Trophy: Pujara, Jackson steer Saurashtra close to final

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KARNATAKA: Benefitting from an umpiring howler, Cheteshwar Pujara put Saurashtra on brink of a victory with an unbeaten hundred but walked out of the ground amidst ‘cheater’ boos in the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Karnataka on Sunday.
Pujara hit his 49th first class hundred and shared an unconquered 201-run fourth-wicket stand with Sheldon Jackson (90) to help his side end the fourth day at 224 for three, just 55 runs away from the victory.
Hosts Karnataka added just two runs to their overnight total of 237 for eight before being bundled out, setting a 279-run target for the visitors.
Pacer R Vinay Kumar provided the hosts the best possible start by getting rid of opener Snell Patel (0) and Vishvaraj Jadeja (0) without letting them bother the scorer.
Abhimanyu Mithun scalped Harvik Desai (9) to leave Saurashtra gasping at 23 for three. It could have been worse for the visitors since Pujara pushed one from Vinay Kumar to edge it to wicketkeeper Shrinivas Sharath but umpire turned down the appeal.
Vinay Kumar could not believe his luck and was left fuming and frustrated, considering that Pujara’s wicket is a prized scalp.
The TV 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.
The home bowlers left to toil whole day as they only saw Pujara and Jackson build the fourth innings.
The two batsmen did not offer any chance to Karnataka bowlers after that, gradually taking it away from the hosts.
Pujara has faced 216 balls for his 108-run knock which has 14 fours.
Jackson is 10 runs away from his 16th first class hundred as his 90 came off 205 balls with 13 shots to the fence.
As the stumps were drawn and players started leaving the ground, angry home fans booed Pujara by shouting ‘cheater’ ‘cheater’.
Saurashtra now need to knock off just 55 runs on the final day with seven wickets in hands to set up the Ranji Trophy summit clash with defending champions Vidarbha.
—PTI