Bungling Karnataka face defeat

Bungling Karnataka face defeat

Hosts forced to follow on despite Kapoors century

Bungling Karnataka face defeat

Any chance Karnataka had of qualifying for the quarterfinals was surrendered after their batting line-up reverted to its old and painful habit of collapsing against less than impressive bowling units.

Overnight 11/0, Karnataka were staring at a daunting 577 runs to chase down for the innings lead with two whole days to go after Haryana had posted 587 for nine declared on Sunday. The task seemed a tedious one even for Karnataka’s much-hyped batsmen but with three crucial points at stake they were expected to put up a fight if nothing more. Going by their form in the past couple of matches, it seemed all the more possible for a fight to be put up. Instead, on a sunny Monday at the KSCA ground in Rajnagar they crumbled feebly.

The hosts were bowled out for 272 in 70.4 overs, conceding a whopping 315-run lead. Following on, they managed 63 runs from 16 overs, requiring another 252 runs to avoid innings defeat.

The reason for much of Karnataka’s problem was their old nemesis Harshal Patel. The paceman, who was instrumental in nudging out Karnataka from the quarterfinals of the 2011 Ranji Trophy season, returned to haunt Stuart Binny’s men. The 22-year-old bagged five important wickets on a wicket which offered no assistance to break Karnataka’s spine and burst their dreams of progressing any further.

While Harshal was the reason for Karnataka’s collapse, Kunal Kapoor was why Binny & Co were able to reach a point of respectability. The right-hander, who is playing the third match of his debut season, struck a brilliantly scripted 106 runs from 202 balls with ten fours and a six to reach his maiden first-class century.

Earlier, Karnataka were off to a flier and raised everyone’s expectations after Haryana’s Amit Mishra and Jayant Yadav had foiled it with their double centuries a day earlier.

KL Rahul and Robin Uthappa, who added a quick 11 runs overnight, were on attack mode from the word go. Rahul was selective and intelligent in dispatching Haryana’s bowlers to the fence while Uthappa took them apart with no remorse.

Even as Rahul (15) fell poorly executing a cut off Harshal straight to Abhimanyu Khod at gully, Uthappa stood tall and accumulated runs at a quick pace to rush to his fifty from a mere 54 balls.

With Kunal and Uthappa batting comfortably on either ends, things were beginning to look up for Karnataka, but that was not for too long.

Mishra brought himself into the attack as early as in the 19th over and his ploy worked as he trapped Uthappa in front of the stumps while the batsman attempted an extravagant sweep. Uthappa (51, 101m, 59b, 7x4) walked back unconvinced and dejected.

From there on – barring Kunal, the rest of the batsmen looked well and truly out of place. Going for the kill, Mishra brought on Harshal in the 56th over for his third spell, and it proved to be disastrous for the home side.

Harshal, who had bagged a wicket in each of his two spells already, was on fire and he bowled a dangerous bouncer to get rid of SL Akshay. He backed it up with a brute of a delivery to get the better of Ronit More.

On a hat-trick, Harshal bowled a fiery yorker at KP Appanna but unfortunately for him he wasn’t able to get past the spinner. Harshal completed his eight-over spell by scalping his fifth victim in Appanna.

Stranded on 98 when Appanna returned to the hut, Kunal hoped for HS Sharath to support him and the giant pacer was kind enough to oblige, as his lanky team-mate guided a ball from Mishra down to third-man before raising his bat to give an otherwise disappointed crowd something to cheer about.