Karnataka 575 for 7 dec (Dravid 209*, Pandey 66, Pawan 52) and 247 for 8 dec (Gautam 100*) drew with Uttar Pradesh 208 (Praveen Kumar 58*, Rohit Srivastava 55, Mithun 4-51) and 22 for 1
There was no miracle on the final day for Uttar Pradesh. Karnataka expectedly entered their 12th Ranji Trophy final, where they will face defending champions Mumbai, the only currently active team who they have not beaten outright.
Karnataka's lead was already past 400 at the start of play on Wednesday, with little interest left in the day's proceedings. Both teams sleepwalked through proceedings, the highlight of which was a century for Muralidharen Gautam, who became the fifth Karnataka batsman to make two hundreds or more this season.
The two biggest cheers from the sparse crowd at the Chinnaswamy were right before Karnataka declared their second innings with the lead more than 600: first, when Rahul Dravid finally walked out to bat at No. 10, and four minutes later when Gautam reached triple figures with a steer past gully for four. Gautam celebrated enthusiastically, waving his bat to his clapping team-mates and to the faithful who had turned up, and was walking back towards the stumps when Dravid signalled the declaration just before tea.
The day's most entertaining passage was when Gautam and R Vinay Kumar combined for a 112-run sixth wicket partnership. After a moribund two hours in the morning, Vinay Kumar clubbed Piyush Chawla over long-on for six, and then jolted the Karnataka State Cricket Association club members who were enjoying their lunch by launching Praveen Gupta into their enclosure. The free swings from Vinay Kumar also encouraged Gautam to be more enterprising; he whipped a four to midwicket, and unleashed a couple of backfoot cover drives before a late cut took him into the eighties.
A demoralised UP were clearly looking to catch the first flight home, barely concerned with dislodging Karnataka's batsmen. Tanmay Srivastava, who has never bowled in first-class cricket before was given 12 overs while frontline bowlers Praveen Kumar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar sent down only three each.
The only specialist quick bowler who was used for a long spell was RP Singh, bowling 12 straight overs in the morning. There was still nothing in the pitch for him, but he was more accurate than in the first innings, to be rewarded with the wicket of Ganesh Satish. It was only in the final over of his effort, that he erred by giving too much width, which was promptly punished by a couple of square drives from Gautam.
RP got the second new-ball to rise sharply, and struck twice in an over to remove Sunil Joshi and Abhimanyu Mithun. Within an over, the declaration came, leaving UP about 45 minutes to bat till the match was called off, much to the visitors' relief. Right through the four days, UP were always behind in the game, and there wasn't even a stand-out individual performance to provide a measure of consolation.
UP made the finals of the previous two seasons, but for Karnataka it has been a 11-year wait to get to the title clash. "It's great for Karnataka cricket, great for a lot of the young boys in the team," Dravid said. "We have had some tough years in the middle and it's nice to see that we have made it to the finals this year, things are beginning to look up a little."
He was particularly happy that the dominant season, where Karnataka have had four outright wins and are yet to concede the first-innings lead, was on the back of efforts of youngsters. "Throughout the season the youngsters have done really well, they have been given a lot of confidence by the team management and the selectors," he said. "They have repaid the faith, other than me and Sunil [Joshi] everyone is less than 25 years of age, hopefully they keep performing and we'll have some successes not only this year but also in next couple of years."