Having surrendered the advantage on the opening day, Karnataka staged a fine comeback to wrest the initiative against Baroda on Saturday’s second day here at the Moti Bagh ground.
A combination of dropped catches and some gutsy batting by centurions Aditya Waghmode and Irfan Pathan had pushed Karnataka firmly on the back foot on Friday but the visitors fought back to minimise the damage first through their bowlers and then through their batsmen. All-rounder Stuart Binny, who had claimed two wickets on the opening day, led Karnataka’s charge with three more scalps on the day as the hosts’ innings, overnight 308/4, folded up for 406; an addition of just 98 runs for the loss of six remaining wickets during an extended opening session.
While a 400-plus total isn’t an insignificant total by any stretch of imagination, Karnataka will be satisfied with the effort given their position at the start of day’s play. The good work of the bowlers was well complemented by the batsmen as the visitors finished the day at a healthy 148/2, Robin Uthappa (67 batting, 166b, 10x4) showing rare patience during his near four-hour vigil at the crease.
As Uthappa resisted his natural instinct to attack -- Karnataka were certainly better for his approach -- his partner KB Pawan (56, 116b, 8x4) discarded his usual dour approach. Without being reckless, the Mysore lad dominated the initial part of their 112-run opening association with some crunchy punches and elegant drives.
With little there for the bowlers on a well-settled surface, it was proving to be an uphill task for the home attack to separate the Karnataka pair. Uthappa, reprieved twice off difficult chances, did survive some anxious moments while left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt caused an occasional confusion in batsmen’s minds but the right-handed combo appeared set for a long haul otherwise. However, a half-hearted pull by Pawan resulted in a simple return catch to Gagandeep Singh at short mid-wicket.
The right-arm pacer delivered a second blow to Karnataka when he trapped Ganesh Satish early in his innings. Uthappa and Manish Pandey (10 batting) avoided further mishaps but the task is far from complete as Karnataka still trail Baroda by 258 runs.
Waghmode (129, 293b, 17x4, 2x6) and Irfan (121, 198b, 13x4, 4x6), who had hauled the home side out of trouble on Friday, held the key to Baroda extending their domination.
Though in obvious discomfort against a hard-working A Mithun, the left-handed duo managed to deny any early breakthrough that Karnataka were so desperately looking for.
The introduction of Binny, however, did the trick. The medium pacer, who has shown steady improvement as a bowler since last season, cleaned up an advancing Waghmode with the last ball of his first over of the day. Soon he got rid of Irfan, who nicked one behind the wicket.
With two set batsmen back in the pavilion, Karnataka bowlers struck regularly though they would have liked to wipe out the lower order a lot quicker. A steady association was ensuing between Pinal Shah and Ketan Panchal but left-arm spinner KP Appanna (3/53) struck twice in the same over before Binny and Sunil Raju wrapped up the innings. The last wicket came as no more than a consolation for an expensive Raju but there wasn’t any reward for Mithun who bowled his heart out in the match, including a pacy, probing nine-over spell in the morning. While his efforts didn’t benefit him personally, they certainly helped Binny cash in on the pressure built at the other end.