Ranji Trophy: Kapoor slams ton again

Former champs Karnataka stare at early elimination

Ranji Trophy: Kapoor slams ton again

Karnataka batsmen restored coach J Arun Kumar’s faith in them by putting on a stellar show on a sultry Monday at the KSCA ground in Rajnagar here.

However, their display could fetch them only one point at the end of their Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy encounter against Haryana.

Haryana, who took the innings lead by scoring a mammoth 587 and bowling out Karnataka for 272, grabbed three points to finish with 13 points from seven matches. Following on, Karnataka -- led by a fiery Robin Uthappa and the composed Kunal Kapoor -- scaled down the 315 runs they trailed by and finished at 332 for three in 93.4 overs before the captains decided to call it off as the match pointlessly meandered into the mandatory overs.

Karnataka now have 15 points from seven matches and remain in sixth place. They will require an alignment of stars to make their way in to the quarterfinals.

Coming into day four with 63 runs on board and the bitter memory of their first innings collapse still fresh in their minds, Karnataka had pressure weighing them down until Robin Uthappa applied himself by going hammer and tongs against Haryana’s bowlers.

The 27-year-old put on a show filled with pyrotechnics of the past and a recently acquired calm to put Haryana to the sword. The right-hander struck his 13th first-class century (137, 266m, 172b, 22x4) in a scintillating display of attacking batsmanship to give Karnataka the breathing space to push for a draw.

Starting the day on 37, Uthappa, who was witness to the loss of KL Rahul (37, 121m, 91b, 7x4) early in the day, was crude in his way of putting away the pacers but it was his method against Amit Mishra that deserved all the praise. Uthappa, well aware of how he lost his wicket to the leg-spinner in the first innings, destroyed Mishra’s rhythm.
After racing to his century with a gentle dab to short fine-leg for a single off Mishra, Uthappa continued to attack but lost the plot after lunch (200/1).

Kunal, who was on 46, when Uthappa returned to the hut, looked set for another big one as he accumulated runs with utmost ease.

He was joined by CM Gautam at the other end and the duo went about dismantling Haryana’s bowlers. While Kunal (100 not out, 270m, 214b, 15x4) was happy nudging the ball around and smacking the odd bad ball, Gautam (51 not out, 126m, 87b, 8x4) went after anything short and there were plenty of them. He took a liking to the pacers -- Mohit Sharma in particular.

Trusting the even bounce on the pitch, Gautam took Mohit to the cleaners as he struck him for three consecutive fours on two separate occasions to have the crowd on its feet.
Meanwhile, Kunal, playing only his third game, showed the composure of a seasoned pro and continued to play smart to carry his team past Haryana’s first innings total with a single off Joginder Sharma in the 90th over.

Within the reach of another century, the 25-year-old seemed a little hesitant but when Mishra tossed the ball up in the 94th over of the match, he lent forward and guided the ball to cover for single to become the first player in Karnataka’s 78-year Ranji Trophy history to score a century in each innings.

Even though the Karnataka camp was aware of where it stood on the table and what it would take for it to progress, Kunal gave them a reason to put their worries behind even if only for a moment.

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