Karan Sharma led from the front with a calm and composed unbeaten 93 as Uttar Pradesh knocked out favourites Karnataka with a five-wicket win in their Ranji Trophy quarterfinals on Wednesday.
This was UP's first-ever win over Karnataka on 13 occasions and it could not have come at a better time. UP are now headed for a semifinal clash against heavyweights Mumbai at the same venue from June 14.
Previously, UP had lost four times and drawn nine times but never won against Karnataka.
Captaining the team in his very first season for UP, the 23-year-old Sharma, playing his fourth first-class match, showed solid temperament in their chase of 213 after Priyam Garg made an elegant 60-ball 52.
Sharma, who scored a second-innings century in their win over Maharashtra that sealed their quarterfinals berth here, once again stood like a rock. The Lucknow Super Giants batter, who faced 163 balls aced his innings brilliantly, especially at the fag end of the day.
That the slow pitch had little to offer for the pacers also played a part as Sharma happily took on Ronit More, pulling him in front of square, even on front foot.
He slammed 13 fours and one six in his knock as UP fashioned a memorable win with two days to spare.
The skipper found an able ally in Prince Yadav who played a patient innings of 33 not out from 73 balls (3x4, 1x6) in their unbroken match-winning partnership of 99 runs.
UP had a jittery start to their chase as they lost Aryan Juyal and Samarth Singh for 28 but thereafter Garg played a counter-attacking knock and reached to his fifty in 57 balls with a six off Vidhwath Kaverappa.
Just when it seemed that UP had the game on their hands, the home side titled the match in their favour after off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham gave the breakthrough by dismissing Garg.
Bowling superbly to his field, Gowtham foxed Garg with a length ball as the Sunrisers Hyderabad batter gave a simple catch to leg slip.
Rinku Singh (4) and Dhruv Jurel (9) were also dismissed cheaply as UP lost three wickets for 27 runs with 114/5 on board in the second session when the young skipper came to take charge of the proceedings.
Sharma had a solid approach upfront without buckling under pressure and took time to settle down before coming on his own.
Earlier, it was their India 'A' left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar who returned with a match-haul of seven wickets to turn it around for the Vijay Dahiya-coached UP after they suffered a first-innings batting collapse to concede a 98-run first-innings lead.
Saurabh returned with 3/36 in the second essay which included the prized-scalps of Mayank Agarwal as Karnataka failed to build on their healthy lead and were bundled out for 114 on the third day morning.
Yash Dayal grabbed the last two wickets to complete the formalities as Karnataka, who were overnight 100/8, were bowled out in five overs. On a docile pitch, there was a sheer lack of application from the star-studded Karnataka batting lineup.
Karnataka: 253 and 114 in 39 overs; Uttar Pradesh: 155 and 213/5 in 65.2 overs (Karan Sharma 93 not out, Priyam Garg 52, Prince Yadav 33 not out; Vijaykumar Vyshak 3/47)
Result: UP won by 5 wickets.