Verma steers Karnataka to a good position

Visitors finish day two with 106-run lead

Against an honest and hard-working home attack, most of the Karnataka batsmen got off to good starts. But barring Verma (85, 165b, 14x4) none of them went on to make a big one. Even so, the visitors managed to drive home the advantage as the rub of the green went their way. Overnight 35/0, Karnataka finished day two of the four-day match at 306 for eight in 104 overs, 106 runs good to Madhya Pradesh’s first innings total of 200.

Madhya Pradesh could have so easily stayed on an even keel had the luck favoured them only half as much as it did Karnataka. It all began with Stuart Binny surviving an appeal for a catch at first slip that was referred to the TV umpire who ruled the decision in favour of the batsman. Binny (38) was then on five of the team’s total of 168. The right-hander then went on to add 73 runs with Verma for the fifth wicket before departing at the stoke of tea.

Immediately after resumption, CM Gautam was dropped at slip when on three. The next ball, Verma slipped and found himself in the middle of the pitch after being sent back by Gautam. There was no way the left-hander could have made it to the crease even if he was to run like Ussain Bolt, but Amit Sharma fired his throw at the non-striker’s end from mid-on, allowing Verma to scamper to safety. In the melee, however, the hosts failed to notice that Sharma’s direct hit had caught Gautam short, the right-hander’s bat dangling a good three inches above the ground.      

Such was Gautam’s luck on the day that he could well have been advised to buy a lottery ticket! Returning to the attack with the new ball, paceman TP Sudhindra caught the in-form batsman plumb in front when on nine, but umpire Amiesh Saheba thought otherwise. Soon, an otherwise cautious Verma slashed hard at medium pacer Amit Sharma only to see Murtaza Ali grass a sharp but straight chance. The ragged home team, however, got something to cheer about as they winkled out three batsmen, including a well-set Verma, in the last half hour of an extended day.

On a wicket where the odd ball kept low and offered a fair turn to spinners, Karnataka began gingerly. Robin Uthappa (44) expectedly dominated the opening stand of 66 with KB Pawan (49) but failed to build on his start. Ganesh Satish fell to a poor stroke while Pawan, looking as solid as ever, ran himself out running for a non-existent single. Manish Pandey (49) appeared set for another big knock.

Comfortable against both spin and pace, the right-hander made it all look easy even as Verma consumed 24 balls to open his account. On the verge of a well-deserved fifty, Pandey dragged Amit on to his stumps.

At 155 for four, Karnataka were far from being safe when Verma-Binny association ensued. From the first ball he faced, Binny looked fluent which rubbed on a hitherto circumspect Verma. The southpaw isn’t the most elegant in a long Karnataka batting line-up but he has been no less effective. The second highest run-getter this season behind Pandey, the 23-year-old may have just fallen short of a well-deserved century, but he has done enough to place Karnataka in a position from where they can dictate terms.
MADHYA PRADESH (I Innings): 200 all out in 73.5 overs

KARNATAKA (I Innings; O/n: 35/0): Robin Uthappa c Ankit b Rajan 44 (111m, 83b, 5x4), KB Pawan (run out) 49 (201m, 120b, 6x4), Ganesh Satish b Rajan 0 (6m, 3b), Manish Pandey b Amit 49 (129m, 112b, 6x4, 1x6), Amit Verma c Sudhindra b Saxena 85 (216m, 165b, 14x4), Stuart Binny lbw Ankit 38 (77m, 53b, 7x4), CM Gautam (batting) 29 (119m, 72b, 2x4), R Vinay Kumar c Rajan b Saxena 0 (1m, 2b), Sunil Joshi b Saxena 2 (9m, 10b), A Mithun (batting) 0 (17m, 12b). Extras (B-1, NB-8, W-1) 10. Total (for 8 wkts, 104 overs) 306.

Fall of wickets: 1-66 (Uthappa), 2-73 (Ganesh), 3-116 (Pawan), 4-155 (Pandey), 5-228 (Binny),, 6-294 (Verma), 7-294 (Vinay), 8-297 (Joshi).
Bowling: TP Sudhindra 20-3-63-0 (nb-1), Amit Sharma 24-6-69-1 (nb-4), Anand Rajan 21-4-52-2 (nb-3, w-1), Ankit Sharma 19-2-78-1, Jalaj Saxena 17-5-31-3, Abbas A 3-0-12-0.

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