Saurashtra completed the highest successful chase in Ranji Trophy history in their quarter-final tie against Uttar Pradesh (UP) on Saturday to book a place in the last four of the tournament.
UP were firmly on top in Lucknow at the end of the second day's play with a hefty lead of 177 in the first innings.
Saurashtra were staring down at defeat and required some source of inspiration to comeback into the match and the team could not have asked for anyone better than having Cheteshwar Pujara around.
During the mid-innings break on Day 3, after UP were bowled out for 194 in the second innings, setting Saurashtra a stiff target of 372, Pujara spurred his teammates on by saying, 'guys, it's a five-day game and we can come back in this game', revealed Unadkat according to The Indian Express.
As opposed to the four-day games in the league stages, all games in the quarter-finals and beyond are five-day affairs.
Unadkat credited Pujara's presence in the team after the landmark victory. "The great plus was that we had Pujara for this game, and he was the one who took the initiative to tell us, ‘guys, it’s a five-day game and we can come back in this game’," said the pacer.
Pujara, enjoying the finest hour of his cricketing career after a stellar show in India's first-ever Test series victory in Australia, returned to first-class cricket to help Saurashtra in the last eight of India's premier domestic competition.
Openers Harvik Desai and Snell Patel stitched 132-run stand before the latter fell for 72, while Desai went on to score his century. Pujara and Sheldon Jackson remained unbeaten for 67 and 73 respectively to guide their team to six-wicket win.
Saurashtra will now take on Karnataka in the semi-finals on 24 January, while first-time semi-finalists Kerala will face defending champions Vidarbha in the other last-four tie.
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