Karnataka notch narrow victory

Karnataka notch narrow victory

Harshal Patel charged in and bowled a bouncer straight at Stuart Binny. Instead of ducking or getting on top of the ball, the right-hander let the ball come on to him and unleashed an aesthetic upper cut to signal the end to one of the most entertaining Ranji Trophy matches in recent memory.

Binny’s innovative shot off the fiery pacer, who had just finished taking eleven wickets for match, fetched him a boundary and also helped Karnataka post a narrow three-wicket win over Haryana in their Group ‘A’ encounter at the Ch Bhansi Lal Cricket Stadium here.
With this win, Karnataka earned six points and moved to the second spot on the table with nineteen points from five matches.

Karnataka needed a mere 58 minutes on the final day to complete that task which seemed easy enough at the end of Sunday but that passage of play was as intense as the final stages of a nail-biting Twenty20 encounter.

Requiring 35 more runs to win after reaching 62 for four on the penultimate day in pursuit of the 97-run target set by Haryana, Binny (31 not out, 64 minutes, 30 balls, 4x4) and Gautam (5) walked in with an air of surety. Much to their surprise, their opponents too seemed a confident lot despite having very little to defend.

Karnataka seemed well on course when Binny dominated both Ashish Hooda and Harshal from the first over. The opening over from Hooda yielded three runs and Harshal’s first over of the day fetched Karnataka seven runs. Things were looking good for Karnataka as Binny took on Hooda in the third over of the day and scored ten runs studded with two boundaries.

Twenty runs had come off the first three overs and with fifteen runs to go, it looked all but over. Then Harshal took matters into his own hands.

The 23-year-old, who had picked up six wickets in the first innings and a couple in his second stint, fired in a furious bouncer at Gautam and smacked Karnataka skipper’s gloves. The ball went up and landed straight into Jayant Yadav’s hands at first slip.
Eighty-two for five did not seem like a bad position to be in given that there remained one set batsman in Binny and one other established batsman to come. Ganesh Satish arrived at the crease but he departed without troubling the scorers. Abrar Kazi too found Harshal too hot to handle as he edged one to ’keeper Nitin Saini.

Karnataka were a mere ten runs from the finish line but it seemed a lot farther than that. New man Abhimanyu Mithun defied all odds and played out seven deliveries during which he even managed to get four leg byes to take the visitors within six runs of a memorable win.

The 11th over of the day was once again a contest between Binny and Harshal, but this was going to be the last of it. Binny stole a couple of runs off an on-drive off the fourth delivery, and then, when least expected, he gently rocked back and guided that fiery bouncer from Harshal over the slip cordon before turning towards the pavilion to acknowledge an elated Karnataka dressing room.

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