Vidarbha remain in hunt

Vidarbha remain in hunt

Vidarbha remain in hunt

Batsmen continued to flourish on what has turned out to be a nightmarish pitch for the bowlers at the Gangotri Glades here.

Having managed a mammoth 619/8 declared, Karnataka, believe it or not, are now left staring at the possibility of conceding the lead as Vidarbha returned the favour in style by finishing Monday’s penultimate day on a strong 302/2 in their Group B Ranji Trophy clash.

With 318 more runs required to achieve the first innings lead on the final day, the visitors, who at best would have hoped to save the match at the beginning of their chase, should now be fancying their chances of bagging three points for the first innings lead.

Leading Vidarbha’s spirited reply were Amol Ubarhande (129 batting, 344m, 251b, 18x4) and Shalabh Srivastava (84 batting, 282m, 218b, 10x4) who exhibited great resolve to stitch together 209 runs for the unbroken third-wicket stand to offset the loss of overnight batsmen Faiz Fazal (22) and Shiv Sundar Das (53) inside the first session of play.

Overnight 48/0, Vidarbha suffered their first blow when southpaw Fazal nicked A Mithun for Ganesh Satish to complete a smart catch at short cover. His partner Das, however, defied the hard-working home attack for the next 13 overs in the company of Ubarhande before the former India opener edged Stuart Binny to Manish Pandey who held on to a low offering.

With nothing working for Karnataka, skipper Vinay Kumar changed Binny’s bowling end and the move worked immediately as the all-rounder managed to fox the veteran batsman in the first over after the switch.

Notwithstanding the two scalps, which were expected to make the bowlers toil hard, Karnataka’s task was far from complete given the experience to follow in the visiting batting line-up and the docile nature of the surface. But the former champions may not have expected such a formidable resistance from the inexperienced Ubarhande, whose previous best was 42 in six games, and the low-on-confidence Srivastava, who had gone without a half-century in his last three matches.

Admittedly, there was nothing for the bowlers in the pitch which has suffered little wear and tear despite three days of play. Given the conditions that were already stacked up against them, Karnataka bowlers should consider themselves a bit unlucky as they were robbed of the services of their pace spearhead Vinay for two sessions. The Karnataka skipper, who picked up a sore ankle, didn’t take the field post lunch.

That shouldn’t, however, take anything away from the dogged performance the Vidarbha duo, more so Ubarhande, put on display on the day. Even without Vinay, warned once for running on the danger area of the wicket, Karnataka boasts of a quality attack and to make such a strong statement of intent spoke plenty about the mental make-up of the batsmen. Barring a couple of loud shouts for lbw and a few half chances, Ubarhande and Srivastava remained largely untroubled.

While the day’s total – 254 in 90 overs – certainly reflects on the safety-first nature of their approach, both Ubarhande and Srivastava weren’t shy of showing the aggressive side of their batting time to time.

This was the right tactic to follow as going into a complete shell would have allowed Karnataka to attack them more than they actually did. As a result of their intent to gather runs, Vidarbha have provided themselves a realistic chance of overhauling Karnataka’s total