Karnataka take innings honours to top the table

Cricket Ranji Trophy: Nayars unbeaten ton helps Mumbai eke out draw

Karnataka take innings honours to top the table

Even Karnataka getting three points was a mundane certainty once they had reduced Mumbai to 354 for eight on the previous day, with the hosts eventually getting bowled out for 441. In their second innings Karnataka made 147 for three. Karnataka now sit on top of their group with 12 points from three games, while Mumbai are second with 10 points.

The only time Karnataka couldn’t keep up with the plot that they wrote for most part of this game was in the morning session when they met with unexpected resistance from Mumbai’s last pair Abhishek Nayar, who remained unbeaten on 191, and Ankeet Chavan. Skipper R Vinay Kumar removed Onkar Gurav early, and the visitors seemed well on course to materialize their ambition of enforcing the follow-on, and have another crack at Mumbai in search of an outright victory.

But Nayar, who had to limp out on Saturday due to cramps, came back to add 86 in the company of Chavan to thwart Karnataka’s designs. More than the runs, that partnership was significant for Mumbai because they batted for nearly two hours, ensuring that Karnataka would not have enough time to ask them to bat again.

It was a brilliant alliance if viewed in isolation. When Chavan joined Nayar the threat of follow-on was a reality. While it would have been naïve to think that Karnataka could have bowled out Mumbai for a second time in this match on a barren surface, the 39-time champions would have had to go through the ignominy of follow-on but for that brave partnership worth 86.

Nayar batted as fluently as ever, and Chavan exploited a packed infield to conjure 32 runs, all in boundaries. This was also the period Karnataka might have let the things slip a bit with a defensive field placing. While they packed the circle for Chavan, Vinay chose to place the fielders at the ropes for Nayar, but the southpaw countered the strategy easily picking up singles in the fourth or fifth ball to reduce the potential of danger had Chavan faced more balls.

Perhaps, Vinay should have opted for a more aggressive field against Nayar as well, but in the end the cushion of assured three points might have prevented him from taking too many chances, justifiably so. As Nayar moved fluently towards his double hundred, the inexperience of Chavan surfaced to end Mumbai innings. The left-hander smashed a juicy full toss from part-time offie Ganesh Satish straight into the hands of Manish Pandey at covers with just a ball in the 118th over remaining.

Karnataka had 65 overs to bat including the 15 mandatory overs in their second essay, and the lone point of interest was to see whether one of the frontline batsmen could notch up a hundred. Air of expectancy intensified when Robin Uthappa began in his typical way, but he couldn’t clear Ajit Agarkar at long-on off Chavan, perishing for 24.

KB Pawan (57) and Ganesh (56) added 99 runs for the sedate third wicket partnership as the match inched closer to a draw, and Karnataka will definitely be the happier side after their spirited effort to grab three points.

They were wobling at 316 for five after the opening day, but Amit Verma rescued them with defiant hundred, and it was a tough task to contain free-scoring Mumbai batsmen on a lifeless track, but the Karnataka bowlers produced a punchy performance to earn their team a valuable 194-run lead.

Now, they can prepare for the Saurashtra game on November 29 in a confident frame of mind.

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