Gautam hits 264 as Karnataka take firm control

Visitors declare at mammoth 572/9

Gautam hits 264  as Karnataka take firm control

CM Gautam’s sterling run in the current Ranji Trophy season continued as he scored an unbeaten double hundred to take Maharashtra out of the game on day two of their Group ‘B’ match at the Subrata Roy Sahara stadium here.

On a cold Sunday morning, Gautam and his skipper Stuart Binny walked in with Karnataka’s overnight score at 306 for four and batted out of their skins to take the visitors to a commanding 572 for nine declared.

While Binny (168, 413 minutes, 272 balls, 19x4, 2x6) added 53 runs to his overnight tally of 115 before falling to Samad Fallah, Gautam was at his carefree best and a lot less merciful. The right-hander went about compiling his second double century of the season with the precision of a surgeon. The 26-year-old, who spent nearly eleven hours at the crease, walked back to a standing ovation after scoring 264 from 464 balls with 32 boundaries and a six.

Gautam’s effort, which made him the highest scorer this season with 922 runs from 12 innings, helped Karnataka put pressure on Maharashtra, who had reached 58 for one at close of play.

En route to his second double ton – the first came against Vidarbha (257) in Mysore a fortnight ago — Gautam also became part of the most successful fifth wicket partnership in Karnataka’s Ranji history. Gautam and Binny, who had added 215 runs on Saturday to pull Karnataka out of a stiff situation, made matters worse for Maharashtra as they piled on 340 runs. The previous record of 336 was set by Syed Kirmani and K Jeshwant against Tamil Nadu in Coimbatore in the 1990-91 season.

Karnataka had to endure a tough opening hour before they could march towards their eventual total. With some assistance from the early morning conditions, Fallah and Sachin Chaudhari troubled Gautam and Binny. By bowling a tight line on and around off stump, they kept the batsmen on a tight leash, with a mere 11 runs coming from the first 12 overs.

Even though this phase drew a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the bowlers and the Karnataka players in the dug-out, Gautam and Binny were in the clear. They kept it simple by playing straight to stave off the challenge before switching to overdrive. Gautam jogged to his 150 (319 balls) while Binny, who was a lot more cautious than the former to begin with, woke up from the slumber and went after Satyajit Bacchav in particular.

Karnataka added 101 runs to their overnight score in the opening session without losing a wicket and returning from lunch, both Gautam and Binny looked comfortable against everything Maharashtra had to throw at them and accumulated runs at will before Binny was dismissed.

Despite the loss of his accomplice with whom he shared the crease for nearly seven hours, Gautam stood tall and forged another healthy 98-run partnership with Amit Verma (42, 85m, 68b, 5x4, 1x6) as Maharashtra prayed for something to go their way. Their prayers were answered as Karnataka lost four wickets for 43 runs before the declaration came, leaving the hosts facing an uphill task.

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