Karnataka seize command

Karnataka seize command

Pawan double ton and Binny century pegs Rajasthan back

swashbuckling ton: Stuart Binny smashed a 141-ball 151 against Rajasthan. file photo

Overnight centurion KB Pawan (251 n.o., 694m, 480b, 32x4, 1x6) became the 14th Karnataka batsman to score a double century, while Stuart Binny (151, 193m, 141b, 23x4, 3x6) struck his third Ranji ton as the visitors declared their first innings closed at a mammoth 623 for six. At stumps on the second day of their four-day match, the hosts had been reduced to 49 for two with skipper R Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun accounting for a wicket each. The home team, which lost its opener Vaibhava Deshpande off the first ball and then skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar, needs another 424 runs to avoid follow-on.

Resuming at their bed-time score of 273 for three, Karnataka didn’t have the desired start to their proceedings. Amit Verma, overnight 59, began with a couple of crisp fours but was guilty of getting too far across the line to an incoming delivery from Pankaj Singh. In the process, the southpaw exposed his leg-stump to be bowled round his legs. A while later, CM Gautam was caught palpably in front by the hard-working paceman though the two noises put a question mark over umpire Sanjay Hazare’s verdict.

In a hostile spell (5.5-2-13-2) of quality swing bowling in the morning, the big-built Pankaj threatened to cut short Karnataka’s flight and another wicket at this stage would have exposed the tail, but Pawan’s perseverance and Binny’s new-found maturity denied Rajasthan another quick success. The two right-handers combined effectively to add a whopping 237 runs for the sixth wicket in just 277 balls to virtually shut Rajsathan out of the game.

Though both the batsmen play for Social Cricketers in the KSCA league, surprisingly enough, Pawan and Binny were batting together for the first time at any level. But the two showed exceptional understanding between them to forge what could eventually turn out to be a decisive phase of the match. Nine out of ten times, you can count on Pawan to bat time but it was refreshing to see Binny keep his attacking instincts in check till he got into his 40s. A natural stroke-maker, the 27-year-old made a conscious effort to spend some quality time in the middle and was rewarded handsomely for the tactic.  

Dropped on 49 at lone slip by Kanitkar off Madhur Khatri, Binny was also the beneficiary of Pawan’s calm presence at the other end. The Mysorean’s unflappable approach even in times of strife helped Binny overcome his early nerves and then grow in confidence. Once he got into his 60s, the all-rounder got on the bike and sped away. He was particularly severe against off-spinner Khatri but there was no other bowler who could claim to have left unpunished.

While Binny was the cynosure for his sparkling innings, no praise can be too high for Pawan who spent over 11 hours in the middle for his epic piece. It was the 20th occasion of a Karnataka batsman scoring a double ton in a Ranji match and the first since Rahul Dravid’s unbeaten 209 against Uttar Pradesh in 2009 in Bangalore. Stepping it up and then slowing down without any notice was the hallmark of Pawan’s innings.  The right-hander would go on a four-hitting spree on occasion, as he did against Sumit Mathur whom he crashed for three boundaries in one over, and then he would switch on to silent mode.
For someone who appeared to be living on borrowed time, the innings couldn’t have come at a better time.