Vidarbha and Saurashtra pulled off victories over Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh on the final day of their Ranji Trophy 2018-19 quarter-finals, to book their berths in the semi-finals. Saurashtra will face Karnataka to try and get into the title round, while Vidarbha will take on Kerala.
Harvik Desai's maiden first-class century helped Saurashtra complete the highest chase in Ranji Trophy history, breaking the previous record of 371 set by Assam against Services in the 2008-09 season.
Saurashtra, the visiting side, began the day on 195 for 2, still 177 adrift. Desai started brightly, with a cracking square cut off Shivam Mavi early on. Yash Dayal dismissed the other overnight batsman Kamlesh Makvana for 7, but Desai continued aggressively. Twenty of the 33 runs he scored on the day came via boundaries, before Saurabh Kumar, who had been wicketless in the match till then, got the 19-year-old to nick one to the wicketkeeper. Desai's 116 came off 259 balls with 16 hits to the boundary.
With 136 runs still needed, Desai's wicket gave some hope to the hosts, and the new ball was taken after the 85th over. But Pujara and Jackson batted sensibly, mostly playing with soft hands. The UP seamers drew a couple of outside edges but they fell well short of the slip fielders.
Pujara, who had struggled in the first innings, looked good. He was solid in defence and authoritative in his shot-making, mostly flicking off his pads or steering past gully as he and Jackson took Saurashtra to 298 for 4 at lunch.
After the break, the UP players looked dispirited, and Pujara and Jackson took full advantage. Jackson was his usual aggressive self, even hitting a straight six off Saurabh as Saurashtra clinched victory just an hour into the second session.
Earlier, Vidarbha took only eight overs on the fifth day to wrap up victory by an innings and 115 runs against tournament debutants Uttarakhand in their game in Nagpur. Umesh Yadav and left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate picked up five wickets each to bring a swift end to Uttarakhand's second innings for 159.
After Uttarakhand resumed on 152 for 5, overnight batsman Saurabh Rawat, who had scored 108 in the first innings, was trapped in front by Umesh for a 21-ball duck after Sarwate had accounted for Malolan Rangarajan two overs into the day. At 154 for 7, Uttarakhand's hopes of at least putting up a resistance dipped.
Umesh ended with 5 for 23 in 15 overs, adding to the 4 for 90 he had in the first innings, and was adjudged the Man of the Match. Sarwate had 5 for 55 in 19.1 overs, and he sealed victory by castling No. 11 Dhanraj Sharma for his third wicket of the morning. It completed a fine all-round show for Sarwate, who had also hit his second first-class century in the first innings.
Uttarkhand had put on 355 in the first innings, to which Vidarbha responded with 629, with Wasim Jaffer's 206 the highest score.
Vidarbha will now face Kerala in the semi-finals, in a repeat of last year's quarter-final. On that occasion, a dominant Vidarbha had won by 412 runs in Surat, on the way to winning their maiden Ranji title.
Uttarakhand, who earned their spot in the quarter-final after topping the Plate Group, will be part of Group C next year.