He is a wicketkeeper-batsman who hit the winning runs for India in a World Cup final. On Friday, he scored an unbeaten, although a bit sluggish, eighty. But no, we're not talking about the man you are thinking of.

This is about Harvik Desai, who scored the winning four in the Under-19 World Cup final in New Zealand last year. One year later in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Uttar Pradesh in Lucknow, he scored an unbeaten 83 off 208 balls for Saurashtra.

Desai is primarily a wicketkeeper-batsman but Snell Patel has been doing pretty well for Saurashtra - today, too, he scored 72 - meaning there was no place for Desai in the side. However, an injury to Avi Barot, a regular Saurashtra opener, just before the start of the tournament threw up a vacant opening slot. Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak took the gamble of playing Desai as a pure batsman and the 19-year-old didn't disappoint.

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Making his debut against Chhattisgarh, the right-handed batsman scored 78 and 46. By the time, the group stages ended, he had 538 runs from eight games at 35.86, including five half-centuries.

In the first innings of the quarter-final, Desai once again batted with authority but failed to convert yet another half-century into a hundred. And despite his 84, Saurashtra were bowled out for 208 in response to UP's first-innings total of 385, and ended up conceding a big lead.

The visitors, though, led by left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, restricted the hosts to 194 in the second innings. But Saurashtra's task wasn't easy. While with five-and-half sessions left in the game, a target of 372 didn't look impossible to achieve, no team in Ranji Trophy has been successful chasing that many.

Ankit Rajpoot triggered the horrors of the first innings by beating Desai's outside edge with the first ball of the chase. But from there on, the teenager batted with caution. At the same time, he didn't fail to convert bad balls into boundaries.

Trying to repeat his first ball, Rajpoot ended up bowling too full. When it was straight, Desai flicked him through midwicket and when it was wide, it was driven through covers. Yash Dayal, the most successful UP bowler in the first innings, was guilty of providing too much room outside off, and Desai duly steered him past gully for four.

UP then switched to Plan B. In the tenth over of the innings, Rajpoot switched to around the wicket and hit Desai on the thigh. A big appeal for lbw was denied as the ball would have sailed over the stumps. From the other end, Mavi was introduced and he started dishing out the short stuff. But Desai was decisive in his shot selection, either ducking and swaying, or pulling it away.

The shot that stood out came in the 11th over of the innings. Mavi, who was Desai's team-mate during the U-19 World Cup, bowled one short outside off. But, perhaps Desai had already played such deliveries during various net sessions. He went back and pulled it towards midwicket boundary for four. Mavi's first six overs went for 34.

But UP posed one more threat, in the form of Saurabh Kumar. The left-arm spinner had 50 wickets in nine games coming into this match, and was just three away from breaking Rajinder Hans' record tally of 52 wickets for UP in a single Ranji season. In the first innings he went wicketless as the three pacers shared all the wickets. However, now UP were banking on him, especially after the opposition's left-arm spinner picked up seven wickets in the match.

Saurabh bowled a fourth-stump line with a dominant off-side field, but Desai had a plan for him as well. He consistently shuffled his front leg outside the line and swept him fine. Whenever he failed to make the connection, and when there was an lbw shout, the umpires deemed the impact was outside the line of off stump.

Desai and Patel took the side to lunch without any damage. After the break, Desai brought up his fifty, off 126 balls.

Mavi dismissed Patel from the other end when the team score was 132. Desai, who until then was batting with utmost care, also suffered a lapse in concentration. In the very next over, he pushed at a length ball from Saurabh but wicketkeeper Upendra Yadav grassed the chance. He was on 59 then.

In the last session of the day, Saurabh switched to over the wicket in search of Desai's wicket but bowled either too full or too short. Desai took full advantage of that and along with Vishvaraj Jadeja took the side to 187.

At stumps, Desai was 17 short of what would be his maiden first-class hundred if reaches there tomorrow. And if he can help Saurashtra to victory - they still need 177 more - it would taste even sweeter.