Batsmen falter as Karnataka let slip advantage
Hosts bowled out for 213 in first innings
Karnataka’s much-hyped batting line-up choked against Odisha on day two of their Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy match on Sunday.
On a wicket that had gotten considerably quicker, Karnataka, overnight 16 for no loss, stumbled at every juncture and just about managed to go past Odisha’s first innings total of 202 for the innings lead.
R Vinay Kumar’s men finished their innings at 213 all out -- lowest ever against Odisha -- in 77.5 overs to gather a lead of 11 runs. Odisha finished the day at 30 for two in 12 overs to take a lead of 19 runs with Alok Sahoo (18) and Deepak Poddar (8) at the crease.
Earlier, Karnataka openers Robin Uthappa (43 runs, 158 minutes, 99 balls, 6x4) and KB Pawan (25, 109m, 79b, 4x4) looked suspect against Odisha’s fiery yet clinical attack.
Even though it was Deepak Behera who returned with the best figures of three for 46, it was Basanta Mohanty (1/44) and Biplab Samantray (2/40) who troubled Karnataka the most.
Mohanty and Samantry did not give an inch away and managed to smother the best Karnataka had to offer. Karnataka batsmen, on their part, lost their calm and displayed below-par technique to go down by the heapful.
Following the loss of Pawan to Sahoo, Uthappa walked back to the pavilion as the Kodava lad left a huge gap between bat and pad to lose his middle stump to Samantray.
At two for 88 Karnataka weren’t exactly in trouble and with the experienced duo of Ganesh Satish (19) and Manish Pandey (8) in the middle, things looked only up.
That, however, was not to be as Ganesh was undone by a brute of a ball from Deepak. The medium-pacer’s delivery pitched on middle-and-off and straightened just enough to open up Ganesh and crash in to the top of the off stump to leave Karnataka reeling at three for 104.
Pandey followed suit five balls later but this time the batsman was at fault as he failed to move his feet and was caught plumb in front to give Samantray his second scalp of the day.
Stuart Binny (12), who looked fluent while striking a couple boundaries, lost his off stump playing across the line to Deepak, who went overboard with his celebration and received a warning from match referee Lt Col Sanjai Verma, with the score on 138.
At this stage – trailing by 65 runs, the situation looked rather grim for Karnataka but there was some hope as CM Gautam (28, 85m, 55b, 5x4) once again got into the rescue-act mode.
The 26-year-old, who has bailed Karnataka on several occasions, joined Amit Verma (26, 109m, 79b, 3x4) in the middle and forged a crucial partnership with the left-hander.
Both Verma and Gautam were given a reprieve on one occasion each, but the duo dug in deep to stitch together a 35-run partnership for the sixth-wicket before Verma was bowled by off-spinner Lagnajith Samal.
Despite the loss, Gautam stood steady and carried the team to 197 for eight but misfortune struck soon after as the right-hander was run out by Govinda Poddar under the most unusual circumstances.
As SL Akshay (24, 35m, 26b, 5x4) dabbed the ball inside the thirty-yard circle with an oncoming Poddar, an indecisive Gautam set off for a run which did not exist. Akshay rejected his partner’s call and stood firm in his crease but Gautam was too far down the pitch to make it back in time as Poddar’s direct hit crashed into the stumps.
As the tension rose, Akshay unfurled by smacking a couple of fours to carry Karnataka past the mark, but the hosts will be mighty disappointed despite gaining a slender lead and getting rid of two of their batsmen in the second essay early on.