Vidarbha medium pacer Rajneesh Gurbani's disciplined bowling helped his team reach their maiden Ranji Trophy final after stunning defending champions Karnataka by five runs in an exciting semi-final match on Thursday. Having finished the match with 12 wickets, Gurbani recorded his career-best bowling figures of 12 for 162. In the first innings Gurbani took five wickets and in the second innings, he scalped seven Karnataka wickets. Vidarbha will now play Delhi for the title of the country's best first-class team.
Vidarbha, needing just three wickets to record a win, were given a tough fight by the Karnataka tail-enders. However, Gurbani ruined Karnataka's chase as he picked up all the three remaining wickets to help his team record a historic win.
What a result for Vidarbha! Must have been a thriller to watch. Will be keeping an eye out for Rajneesh Gurbani. Hearing good things about him.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) December 21, 2017
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 fell 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).
(With PTI inputs)