Satish, Gautam rise to the occasion

Duo defies TN attack to help Karnataka grab lead

Ganesh Satish and CM Gautam pulled off an extraordinary chase for an innings lead to help Karnataka grab three points at the end of their thrilling Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy encounter against Tamil Nadu here at the MA Chidambaram stadium on Monday.

In pursuit of an improbable 300 runs to gain innings honours on the final day of the four-day match, Karnataka got off to the worst possible start after losing overnight batsman Amit Verma (31, 121b, 146m, 5x4) to M Ashwin and Stuart Binny (10) to skipper Lakshmipathi Balaji after adding just fifty runs to their overnight score of 239 for three.

With the team in a spot of bother, Gautam arrived at the crease and joined his friend Ganesh Satish, overnight 65, to script what will go down as one of Karnataka’s most exciting Ranji Trophy successes in history. 

Against all odds, the duo, carried the team past TN’s first innings score of 538 for four declared with seven overs to spare on the day. The match ended in a draw but it was a win for Karnataka, who finished on 562 for six in 187.4 overs, in more ways than one.

Satish, who started the day on 65, was exquisite on day four and his crafty innings resulted in an unbeaten double century which came off 418 balls -- lasting over ten hours.

“We knew that we had the firepower to make it up in the end,” said Satish after scoring his first first-class double century and his fifth first-class ton. “We knew that we had to play yesterday (Monday) out. We were a lot more positive in the first session. We had spoken about taking more singles. The runs came quite easily and then we knew that it was very gettable.

Talking about moments of doubt which crept in after the team had lost a few wickets, the 24-year-old said: “When we lost Stuart (Binny) there was a bit of panic. I thought it could go either way but when Gautam came in and batted so freely from the first ball I felt a lot better. He was looking for runs and he looked so confident, I knew that we could stitch a partnership and they would be on the backfoot.”

While Satish executed the anchor’s role with class, Gautam was rough on TN’s hard-working bowlers. The 26-year-old, who gathers runs at a fast clip, paced his innings to perfection. Gautam came in and put TN’s bowling unit to the sword with an array of shots. Sweeping and reverse-sweeping at will, the wicketkeeper-batsman remained unbeaten on 130 from 171 balls with 13 hits to the fence.

As Karnataka inched towards innings lead, their march was halted briefly by a freak injury to Gautam soon after the batsman brought up his century. While jumping for joy after reaching his sixth first-class ton from a mere 142 balls, Gautam punched the air in celebration and dislocated his right shoulder as the bat went up.

The crowd, who by now were cheering for Gautam and Satish, were silenced by the incident as Gautam was ushered into the dressing room.

While Gautam nursed his hurt shoulder, Sunil Raju came in as the replacement and batted for nearly an hour, scoring a crucial 13 runs.

Much to everyone’s surprise Gautam returned to the field with the score on 500 for six and teamed up with Satish to carry Karnataka to innings lead.

“Ganesh and I have been playing together since our under-16 days,” said Gautam. “I know him for the past ten years. Even in Bangalore we play for the same club (Jawans Cricket Club). Even in the league tournament we had a 400-run partnership recently. We were in fact just talking about that during the innings.”

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