Cautious Karnataka keep TN at bay
Visitors labour to 239/3 but hosts still hold aces on a turning surface
Karnataka’s formidable batting line-up, however, stood up to the spin test to finish the day on 239 for three in 100 overs after starting the day at 26 for no loss.
Three of Karnataka’s batsmen put up scores upwards of fifty, but it was Ganesh Satish’s unbeaten 65 from 184 balls with four hits to the fence that helped Karnataka get into a position from where they could try and push for the innings lead.
It remains to be seen if Karnataka will eye an innings lead by scoring the remaining 300 runs to gain three points or hold fort and settle for not giving away the same. If Tamil Nadu fail to scalp the remaining wickets on Monday, both teams will earn one point apiece.
The hosts, who declared at 538 for four in the first innings, will, however, have their tails up going into the final day as they stifled Karnataka’s top-order with their spinners on a pitch that is beginning to look viciously unpredictable.
Using as many as four tweakers on a pitch that kept the slow bowlers more than interested, Tamil Nadu struck through Malolan Rangarajan, who finished with figures of two for 67 from 33 overs.
The off-spinner, who was hit for a few runs early on in his opening spell by overnight batsmen KB Pawan and Robin Uthappa (53, 134b, 175m, 5x4, 1x6), scalped the latter by trapping him plumb in front of the wicket, bringing an end to a 94-run opening partnership.
Satish arrived with Pawan (69, 194b, 287m, 7x4, 1x6) looking set and he chose to play second fiddle. Pawan went after the spinners and took a special liking to Rangarajan.
The arrival of part-time leg-spinner Abhinav Mukund, however, caught Pawan off guard.
Looking to take on Mukund, Pawan danced down the track on many occasions and got away with it until he mistimed an attempt to heave over the long-on boundary. Pawan, who was dropped by Baba Aparajith off the bowling of Kaushik on 61 at gully, looked distraught with his shot selection as the ball sailed into the hands of TN skipper Lakshmipathi Balaji at mid-on.
With the score on 168 for two, Tamil Nadu had their sights set on pressing for a few more wickets before tea. Their spinners continued to work on a pitch which had developed a few rough areas in an attempt to break through the new and unsettled pair of Satish and new-man-in Manish Pandey (6).
While Satish was getting bogged down at one end, Pandey was all at sea against talented leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin. Even though Ashwin was the one to beat Pandey time and again, it was Rangarajan who managed to scalp the right-hander.
Two balls after the tea break, Pandey probed at an arm ball from Rangarajan and found a thick outside edge en route TN ’keeper Dinesh Kaarthick.
Amit Verma (18 batting) came in with the score on 184 for three and stood steady alongside a gritty Satish.
Satish was slow to get into the groove but given the position the team was in, he had to knuckle down and he did that with aplomb. The right-hander was patient but when the opportunity did arise he struck in style.
The 69th Ranji Trophy match between the sides may result in a draw, but the final ninety overs of this encounter promise a thrilling contest.
TAMIL NADU (I Innings): 538/4 declared in 168 overs.
KARNATAKA (I Innings O/n 26/0): K B Pawan c Balaji b Mukund 69 (194b, 287m, 7x4, 1x6), Robin Uthappa lbw Rangarajan 53 (134b, 175m, 5x4, 1x6), Ganesh Satish (batting) 65 (184b, 242m, 4x4, 1x5), Manish Pandey c Kaarthick b Rangarajan 6 (19b, 29m), Amit Verma (batting) 18 (82b, 100m, 3x4). Extras (B-8, LB-2, NB-17, W-1) 28. Total (for 3 wkts, 100 overs) 239.
Fall of wickets: 1-94 (Uthappa), 2-168 (Pawan), 3-184 (Pandey).
Bowling: Lakshmipathi Balaji 12-8-8-0, Jagannathan Kaushik 12-2-26-0 (nb-1, w-1), M Mohammed 9-2-25-0 (nb-8), Baba Aparajith 8-1-27-0, Murugan Ashwin 23-1-73-0 (nb-8), Malolan Rangarajan 33-12-67-2, Abhinav Mukund 3-1-3-1.