Kolkata: Medium pacer Rajneesh Gurbani’s sensational bowling guided Vidarbha to their maiden Ranji Trophy final after they stunned defending champions Karnataka by five runs in a thrilling semi-final, here on Thursday.
Gurbani finished with 12 wickets in the match, his best bowling figures, laying the foundation for Vidarbha’s historic win. Vidarbha will now play Delhi for the title of the country’s best first-class team.
After picking up 5/94 in the first innings, Gurbani followed it up with yet another stellar show and almost single-handedly dismantled Karnataka’s chase of 198 runs with match-winning figures of 7/68 in the second essay.
Needing just three wickets to record the win, Vidarbha started the fifth and final day as favourites on paper but Karnataka’s tail almost did the job, falling just five runs short. Resuming at the overnight score of 111 for seven, Karnataka depended on Vinay Kumar and Shreyas Gopal to guide the team home.
Vinay (36) who was looking on course to take Karnataka home went for an ambitious cut off Gurbani in the final delivery of the 50th over only to get an edge which was accepted by Akshay Wadkar behind the stumps with Karnataka still 57 runs short of the target.
After Vinay’s dismissal, Abhimanyu Mithun (33 off 26) took his place and played his strokes to take Karnataka closer but he too couldn’t last long. But Gopal and Mithun’s 48-run ninth wicket partnership almost did the job for Karnataka.
In the thrilling last minutes, Gurbani’s two wickets in the space of 10 balls snatched victory for Vidarbha. It has been a memorable season for their final opponents Delhi too as they made the summit clash after 10 long years.
Vidarbha: 185 & 313 vs Karnataka: 301 & 192 all out in 59.1 overs (R Vinay Kumar 36, Abhimanyu Mithun 33, Karun Nair 30; Rajneesh Gurbani 7/68).