Karnataka make it to Ranji Trophy knockout stage
On the final day of the league phase, Karnataka, needing a huge turnaround to make the knockout phase, found their form at the right time to defeat Maharashtra by eight wickets in a thrilling finish but their fortunes depended entirely on Delhi’s display against Vidarbha in Nagpur.
A Delhi win would have slammed the door on Karnataka but Shikhar Dhawan’s men could only manage a draw as they failed to grab the last three Vidharba wickets.
Dejection, as such, was the overwhelming feeling in the Delhi camp as the news of Karnataka’s win came in. Delhi finished on 20 points when a win would have taken them to 23, leaving them two points ahead of Karnataka. As such, Karnataka took the third qualifying spot from Group B with 21 points, behind Uttar Pradesh (33) and Baroda (22).
“We are all very excited. We have come from behind in the last five games and it's boiled down to the last 14 overs of the last league game. I think we are peaking at the right time. There were a few sleepless nights but it's worked. Couldn't have asked for a better game,” said Karnataka captain Stuart Binny, who was named the man of the match.
In a season in which they have struggled to match their potential, Karnataka, on 15 points ahead of this game, were looking for a big win to stake a claim for the quarterfinal spot.
After scoring 572 for nine in the first innings and skittling out Maharashtra for 99, they were in good position but the hosts reached 315 for two in their second innings, causing concern in the Karnataka camp. A fighting century by Ankit Bawne frustrated Karnataka on Tuesday but they were able to strike late blows, ending the Maharashtra second innings to 561 all out.
That left Karnataka with the stiff task of chasing down 89 runs from 13 mandatory overs in fading light at the picturesque stadium.
Skipper Binny, then led the chase with a quickfire knock as Karnataka reached 92 for two wickets in 11.4 overs, dashing Delhi’s hopes.
The Karnataka captain said he never lost hope even when the Maharashtra batsmen were pushing the score along. “Two false shots were all that we needed. With 19 overs to go, they were still only six down but I told my team that we have to take it till the last mandatory over,” said Binny, who had an excellent all-round game.Karnataka will now travel to Rajkot to play Saurashtra in the quarterfinals.