Thanks to the 20-year-old's excellent bowling, Karnataka defeated Uttar Pradesh by 92 runs at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium today. This was Karnataka's sixth straight win. Karnataka are in the semis for the first time since 2010-11 season.
Uttar Pradesh had started the fourth day at 55/1, further needing 278 to win. However, their hopes of chasing down the target of 333 were extinguished in the first session itself when they lost five wickets.
From 181/6 at lunch, the visitors were bowled out for 240 in 60.4 overs in the second session. The only fight came through Piyush Chawla with 44. Opener Tanmay Srivatsava too had 44 runs but that was not enough.
In the semi-finals in Mohali, Karnataka will face Punjab from January 18 to 22.
Gopal, in only his third first-classs game, did the star turn with figures of 5/59. Preferred by his captain R Vinay Kumar ahead of regular spinner - left-armer Abrar Kazi, Gopal proved his worth.
In three spells, Gopal dismantled Uttar Pradesh's batting. He took four wickets today and had one yesterday.
Gopal was well assisted by Man-of-the-match Abhimanyu Mithun (3/71, match haul 7/141) and Vinay (2/72). With their third frontline seamer HS Sharath out injured, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey had to share the workload.
The match which was heading for an interesting finish, had a lot of heated moments with Karnataka players and UP batsmen involved in sledging.
The visitors' batting, as in the first innings, was again a big disappointment. Their veteran batsman Mohammad Kaif's poor run of form continued as he collected his second duck of the match.
After being reduced to 138/6 in 39.3 overs, Chawla and Eklavya Dwivedi (33) kept the hosts waiting with a 70-run partnership. When Mithun removed Dwivedi it was matter of time before the hosts wrapped up victory.
For about 500-odd home fans at the stadium, it was time to celebrate when Vinay bowled No. 10 batsman Ankit Rajpoot in the 66th over. Despite injury, RP Singh batted for 16 balls and remained 3 not out.
Before the last wicket was down, Karnataka players, support staff (both running onto the ground) and fans broke into celebrations when Vinay had RP Singh bowled in the 64th over, only to be denied that scalp due to a no-ball.
As RP Singh was bowled, players thought it was the end of the match and shook hands with electronic scoreboard too flashing the result. But umpire Rajesh Deshpande checked for line call and Vinay had overstepped. But the real celebrations were unveiled two overs later.
On a day when one of India and Karnataka's legends Rahul Dravid celebrated his 41st birthday, the team qualified for the semis.
Uttar Pradesh 240 all out in 60.4 overs (Piyush Chawla 44, Tanmay Srivatsava 44, Ali Murtaza 29, Shreyas Gopal 5/59, Abhimanyu Mithun 3/71, R Vinay Kumar 2/72) and 221/9 declared lost to Karnataka 349 and 204