Young Karan Sharma led from the front with a calm and composed 93 not out as Uttar Pradesh knocked out favourites Karnataka with a five-wicket win in their Ranji Trophy quarter-finals at the KSCA Ground in Alur, near Bengaluru, on Wednesday.
This was UP's first-ever win over Karnataka in Ranji Trophy and it could not have come at a better time. In the semi-finals, UP are likely to face heavyweights Mumbai, who are dominating against Uttarakhand in their quarters, at the same venue from June 14.
Previously, UP had lost four times and drawn nine times but had never won against Karnataka.
Captaining the team in his very first season for UP, the 23-year-old Sharma, playing his fourth first-class match, showed solid temperament in their chase of 213 after Priyam Garg made an elegant 60-ball 52.
Sharma, who scored a second innings century in their win over Maharashtra that sealed their quarterfinals berth here, once again stood like a rock.
The Lucknow Super Giants batter, who faced 163 balls (119 of them dots), paced his innings brilliantly, especially at the fag end of the day.
That the slow pitch had little to offer for the pacers also played a part as Sharma happily took on Ronit More, pulling him in front of square, even off the front foot.
He slammed 13 fours and one six in his knock as UP fashioned a memorable win with two days to spare.
The skipper found an able ally in Prince Yadav who played a patient innings of 33 not out from 73 balls in their unbroken match-winning partnership of 99 runs.
UP had a jittery start to their chase as they lost Aryan Juyal and Samarth Singh for 28 before Garg counter-attacked to race to his fifty in 57 balls with a six off Vidhwath Kaverappa.
Just when it seemed that UP had the game on their hands, the home side titled the match in their favour after off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham gave the breakthrough by dismissing Garg.
Bowling superbly to his field, Gowtham foxed Garg with a length ball as the Sunrisers Hyderabad batter gave a simple catch to leg slip.
Rinku Singh (4) and Dhruv Jurel (9) were also dismissed cheaply as UP lost three wickets for 27 runs with 114/5 on board in the second session when the young skipper came to take charge of the proceedings.
Sharma had a solid approach upfront without buckling under pressure and took time to settle down before coming on his own.
Earlier, it was UP's left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar who returned with a match-haul of seven wickets to turn it around for the Vijay Dahiya-coached UP after they suffered a first innings batting collapse to concede a 98-run first innings lead.
Saurabh returned with 3/36 in the second essay which included the prized-scalps of Mayank Agarwal as Karnataka failed to build on their healthy lead and were bundled out for 114 on the third day morning.
Yash Dayal grabbed the last two wickets to complete the formalities as Karnataka, who were overnight 100/8, were bowled out in five overs.
On a docile pitch, there was a sheer lack of application from the star-studded Karnataka batting line-up.
Their Big Three of Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair and captain Manish Pandey combined for just 36 runs in the second essay that highlighted their plight in the absence of Devdutt Padikkal who was sidelined for the match.
Karnataka: 253 and 114 in 39 overs.
Uttar Pradesh: 155 and 213/5 in 65.2 overs (Karan Sharma 93 not out, Priyam Garg 52, Prince Yadav 33 not out; Vijaykumar Vyshak 3/47).
Mulani, Jaiswal put Mumbai in command
Left-arm spinner Shams Mulani's five-wicket haul was well complimented by opener Yashasvi Jaiswal's maiden hundred as the 41-time Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai put themselves in the driver's seat on the third day of their quarter-final
After the third day's play, Mumbai's overall lead stood at a staggering 794 runs and with that they seemed to have put one-foot in the semi-final.
Mumbai posted a mammoth 647/8 declared in their first essay courtesy a maiden double hundred by debutant Suved Parkar, before an in-form Mulani run riot as Uttarakhand was bundled out for a meagre 114 in their first innings.
Mumbai obtained a massive 533-run first innings lead.
Skipper Prithvi Shaw, however did not enforce the follow-on and in the second essay, it was a Jaiswal (103) show as the 20-year-old slammed his first first-class hundred only in his second game and pummelled the Uttarakhand attack to submission. Mumbai ended the day at 261/3.
Uttarakhand began on their overnight score of 39/2 and none of their batters showed any resistance. Experienced pacer Dhawal Kulkarni got the wicket of his first ball, as he trapped overnight batter Kunal Chandela (8) in front of the wickets.
Then Mulani (5/39) spun a web around the opposition and his first victim was opener Kamal Singh (40), who was caught by Tushar Deshpande. Singh was the top-scorer for the hilly state in the first innings.
Uttarakhand who were teetering at 71/4 never recovered and lost their last six-wickets for just 43 runs with 25-year-old Mulani being the wrecker-in-chief.
Mulani's other victims were -- Swapnil Singh (9), Dikshanshu Negi (12), Shivam Khurana (7) and Agrim Tiwari (0) as the batters did not trouble the scorers.
Pacers Dhawal Kulkarni (1/18), Tushar Deshpande (1/25), Mohit Awasthi (2/22) and off-spinner Tanush Kotian (1/6) ably supported Mulani as the domestic giants dished out an impressive show. This was Mulani's fifth five-wicket haul this season alone.
Mumbai in their second essay were off to an aggressive start, thanks to Jaiswal and skipper Prithvi Shaw, who made 72 in just 80 balls. The duo took the opposition attack to task as it forged a 115-run stand for the first wicket.
Left-handed batter Jaiswal, who struck 10 boundaries and two maximums, found an able ally in experienced Aditya Tare, (57) who too hit a half-century.
The duo added 94-runs for the second wicket as Mumbai continued its run-feast. Just like the first-essay, Uttarakhand bowlers had forgettable outing in the second innings too.
Punjab in disarray as MP close in on win
Left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya ran through the top-order to reduce Punjab to 120 for five in their second innings as Madhya Pradesh continued to enjoy the upperhand in their Ranji Trophy quarter-final match.
Opening the bowling, Kartikeya (4/11) picked up four crucial wickets to return with his second best first-class figures.
The 24-year-old accounted for the vital wickets of Punjab skipper Abhishek Sharma (17), Shubman Gill (19), Mandeep Singh (17) and Gurkeerat Singh Mann (10) to single-handedly demolish Punjab's batting line-up in their second essay.
At stumps on the third day, Siddharth Kaul was batting on 16 and giving him company was wicket-keeper Aman Malhotra on 9.
Punjab still trail Madhya Pradesh by 58 runs and it would prove to be a Herculean task for them to save the match from here on.
Earlier, resuming at 238 for two, overnight centurion Shubham Sharma (102) failed to add to his score but Rajat Patidar continued his fine IPL form and hit 85 off 167 balls with the help of 12 boundaries to take Madhya Pradesh forward.
Patidar was ably supported by Akshat Raghuwanshi (69) as the duo shared 99 runs for the fifth wicket to hand Madhya Pradesh a sizeable first innings lead before perishing.
After the departure of the duo, the remaining four Madhya Pradesh batters could add just 14 runs before folding out in 154.5 overs, taking a massive first innings lead of 178 runs.
Left-arm spinner Vinay Choudhary was the pick of the bowlers for Punjab with figures of five for 83.
Punjab: 219 & 120 for 5 in 47 overs (Anmolpreet Singh 31, Shubman Gill 19; Kumar Kartikeya 4/31).
Madhya Pradesh: 397 all out in 99 overs (Shubham Sharma 102, Himanshu Mantri 89, Rajat Patidar 85; Vinay Chaudhury, 5/83).