Saurashtra run machine Cheteshwar Pujara hammered an unbeaten 261 to help his side amass 463 for three in their second innings on the penultimate day of their five-day Ranji Trophy quarter-final match against Karnataka here on Wednesday.
Saurashtra had made 469 all out in their first innings and then bowled out Karnataka for 396, thus taking a vital 73-run lead.
After day four of the five-day match, Saurashtra have taken an overall lead to 536 with seven second innings wicket intact and look set to enter the semi-final of the tournament.
Saurashtra, in their second essay, lost Sitanshu Kotak (7) early but Pujara, who was named in the Indian ODI squad against England, did not give the visitors a chance to come back into the match by forging three crucial partnerships. He first added 89 runs with Sagar Jogiyani (70) for the second wicket and notched up another 105 runs with skipper Jaydev Shah (31), while the unbroken fourth wicket partnership with Sheldon Jackson (batting 70) yielded 243 runs.
This was Pujara's second double hundred of the current Ranji season. The 24-year-old right-handed batsman had made unbeaten 203 against Madhya Pradesh in a league match earlier.
Pujara's 261 runs came off just 275 balls and the strokeful innings was punctuated with 40 fours and a six as none of the Karnataka bowlers troubled the young cricketer who impressed everybody in the just-concluded Test series against England.
For Karnataka, K P Apanna, Gowtham and Shivalingaiah took a wicket each, giving away 118,118 and 45 runs respectively.
Brief Scores: Saurashtra 469 and 463 for 3 in 90 overs (Cheteshwar Pujara batting 261, Sheldon Jackson batting 70, Sagar Jogiyani 70; Shivalingaiah 1/45, K P Apanna 1/118, Gowtham 1/118) vs Karnataka 396.