Baroda pulled off a thumping 7-wicket win over Karnataka to storm into the finals of the Ranji Trophy. Playing on their home ground, Baroda bowled out the viistors for a paltry 107 in the first innings before posting a score of 153 and securing a crucial lead of 46. But then in the second innings, Baroda faired even better, shooting out Karnataka for 88 before reaching the meagre target of 43 while just losing 3 wickets along the way.
Karnataka won the toss, opting to bat first at the Reliance stadium at Vadodara. But the visitors would have probably rued that decision as they got off to a disastrous start. Pace bowler Sankalp Vohra got rid of Karnataka opener K B Pawan for a duck, with just 1 run on the board. Just 3 runs and 1 over later, seamer Murtuja Vahora triggered off a middle-order collapse, sending back Sunil Raju without letting the bastman open his account.
In the 7th over, he trapped Manish Pandey in front for 4 and then just two deliveries later, had Amit Verma caught behind for no-score. Karnataka were reeling at 8/4. Middle-order batsman Stuart Binny tried to stabilise the innings with surviving opener Robin Uthappa. But the two only took the score to 24, before slow-left armer Bharghav Bhatt had Uthappa caught for 15. The visitors were in deeper trouble at 24/5.
Then wicketkeeper Muralidaran Gautam, strung together brief partnerships with Binny and Sunil Joshi before himself getting out for 28 as the scoreboard read a dismal 83/7. Vahora had in the meantime picked up five wickets. Joshi was Bhatt's next victim, departing for 9. Vinay Kumar took the side to 100 before he was dismissed by Bhatt and the tail-enders had added 11 runs between them when Waghmode cleaned up Mithun to wrap up the Karnataka innings for a paltry 107.
In their reply, Baroda got off to a decent start with openers Connor Williams and Jaikrishnan Kolsawala putting on 22 runs for the first wicket, before Vinay Kumar sent back Williams for 7. A top-order collapse ensued with Joshi reducing the host to 30/4. He dismissed Devdhar and Swapnil Singh for single digits, while Rayudu was the next to go, exiting for 6 as the scoreborad then read 44/5 in 16.4 overs.
Wicketkeeper Pinal Shah was the only batsman to stand his ground as wickets continued tumbling around him. Vohra departed for 8, Waghmode, for the same score, while Bhatt managed just 6. Argal remained stranded on 9 as Joshi got rid of Shah for a brave 83 and Vahora for a duck. Joshi was the destroyer-in-chief with 6/58 from 20 overs.
Karnataka should have got their act together for a decent second innings. But after a moderate good start of 27 for the first wicket, Pawan and Amit Varma went in quick sucession. When the score was 43, Sunil Raju joned them back in the hut. The surviving opener Uthappa, tried to build a reviving partnership with Pandey, but his plans were nipped in the bud for 15, by Swapnil Singh while Bhatt dismissed Pandey for 11 just two runs later, to reduce the visitors to 68/5. Then a latter-order collapse unfolded as Bhatt and Swapnil Singh easily quelled the half-hearted resistance, bowling out Karnataka for 88.
With Bhatt shining through with 5 wickets, the hostshad set themselves a seemingly easy target of 43 runs to win. After an opening stand of 32, there was a flurry of wickets as Karnataka's Sunil Raju and Sunil Joshi attempted to set the cat among the pidgeons. But at 38/3, Baroda was too close to victory to falter further and Kolsawala, unbeaten on 16 and Rayudu, not out on 6, completed the formalities to give their side a deserving win of 7 wickets. Thus Baroda has entered their first Ranji Trophy final in 8 years and now will play either Rajasthan or Tamil Nadu for the Trophy.