Karnataka batsmen fumble on day three

Gagandeep bags five as Baroda wrest control

Just as they had failed to press home the advantage with the ball on the opening day, Karnataka loosened their grip while batting on the third day to all but shut themselves out of their Ranji Trophy Group ‘B’ match against Baroda here at the Moti Bagh ground on Sunday.

Overnight 148/2 and seemingly in control of things in pursuit of Baroda’s first innings total of 406, Karnataka collapsed without as much of a warning on what appeared to be a good batting surface. Paceman Gagandeep Singh (5/49) was the unlikely hero for the hosts as the left-arm seamer, who had accounted for KB Pawan and Ganesh Satish on Saturday’s second day, completed a five-wicket haul to steamroll the much-vaunted visiting line-up for an inadequate 284 all out. After snatching a handsome 122-run cushion, Baroda finished the day at 115 for four to extend their lead to 237.

An assured Abhimanyu Chauhan (52, 98b, 9x4) and an aggressive Irfan Pathan (33 batting, 34b, 6x4) added 50 runs for the unbroken fifth-wicket stand to quell Karnataka’s bid to make a comeback into the match. Firing in tandem, skipper R Vinay Kumar and A Mithun briefly raised the visitors’ hopes by dismissing opener Kedar Devdhar and first-innings centurion Aditya Waghmode respectively before the batsmen could open their accounts. A 61-run alliance between Chauhan and Ambati Rayudu had brought the home team back on track when an inspired move by Vinay to change Stuart Binny’s bowling end worked immediately. The right-arm paceman induced a nick from Rayudu to an obliging stumper CM Gautam.

Manish Pandey, who had been brought in to primarily help Binny switch his end, was given an extra over after he troubled the batsmen with his innocuous medium pace. And to his pleasant surprise, Pandey won a leg-before shout against Baroda skipper Yusuf Pathan to bring the excitement back in the game. Chauhan and Irfan, however, ensured there were no more frills in store for the day.

While Karnataka’s chances of turning the tide are mighty slim, a little more application from their batsmen would have placed them in a far better situation. The batsmen didn’t put a price on their wickets and some of the shots they played, oblivious to the shaky position they were in, were incomprehensible — Manish Pandey’s poorly-executed pull and Robin Uthappa’s ill-conceived reverse sweep being prime examples.

It might sound a bit unkind to rap Uthappa for, he top-scored for Karnataka with an uncharacteristic 82 (326m, 219b, 11x4). Even as Pandey and Amit Verma departed in quick succession, the right-hander’s presence was reassuring though it must be said that he was more diffident than dour on the day.

This approach was acceptable so long as he was not trying to be cute. The Kodava lad had attempted the reverse shot against left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt with mixed results on Saturday but he picked the wrong ball on the day only to see his furniture rearranged. It was an anti-climactic end to an innings built on little flamboyance.

At 193 for five, the situation was nothing less than dire but the depth in their line-up kept alive Karnataka’s hopes of overhauling Baroda’s total. Binny (55, 102b, 7x4, 1x6) and Gautam put up good resistance with a 70-run association but a persevering Irfan separated the duo, sending the latter back. Binny followed him soon when his scoop off Gagandeep was brilliantly pouched by a diving Irfan who covered a good distance from backward square-leg position. The batsman’s disappointment was obvious but the damage had already been done.

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