Vinay century pegs back Punjab

Karnataka close in on another victory as visitors struggle in second innings

Vinay century pegs back Punjab

Skipper R Vinay Kumar was not as effective with the ball but that didn’t stop him from outshining most of Karnataka’s middle-order batsmen as the paceman brought up his maiden first-class century on the third day of their Group ‘A’ Ranji Trophy tie against Punjab at the Rajnagar KSCA Stadium here on Monday.

Vinay’s century not only helped him garner the spotlight, it also helped his side inch towards their third successive victory.

Riding on the back of Vinay (105, 222m, 183b, 10x4, 1x6), Karnataka, overnight 367 for seven, declared at the stroke of lunch after scoring a mammoth 505 for nine in 156 overs.

Karnataka, who had established a 193-run lead at the end of the second day’s play, extended it to 331 runs before the visitors came out to bat for the second time in the match and scored 156 runs for the loss of five wickets from 51 overs.

Punjab trail Karnataka by 175 runs with day’s play left but Karnataka and their fiery bowlers would be expected to run through Mandeep Singh’s men early on the final day and possibly pick up a bonus point for the first time this season.

Karnataka had called shots on the first two days but their showing on the third asserted their superiority in no uncertain terms. And the reasons behind Karnataka gaining the upper hand were Vinay, a resilient tail and Abhimanyu Mithun’s ability to bowl at his best when the pitch has little to offer. But it was Vinay and his newly-acquired batting prowess that really set the tone for the day.

The right-hander looked his scratchy self while wielding the bat on Sunday as he snailed his way to 29 runs by the time the stumps were drawn. On Monday though, he looked more a top-order batsman than anything else.

Opening the proceedings with a late cut and a cover drive off Sandeep Sharma’s first over, Vinay quickly got into rhythm and tormented Punjab’s wayward bowlers by showing plenty of patience and necessary aggression.

Vinay, who brought up his century with a single off VRV Singh in the 115th over, added 28 runs for the eighth wicket with Mithun (12) and then 67 runs with KP Appanna (45, 53m, 46b, 8x4) before stringing together 56 runs alongside HS Sharath (12) for the final wicket.

The Davanagere paceman effectively ended the contest with his batting display, but Karnataka still needed their bowlers to complete the job and that is when Mithun came into the picture.

After Sharath got rid of Vohra in the sixth over, Mithun saw an opening in and went in for the kill. Mixing short balls and good length deliveries in good measure, he beat Punjab’s batsmen on numerous occasions before getting rid of Uday Kaul. He scalped Mandeep and also accounted for the crucial wicket of Jiwanjot Singh to put Karnataka firmly in the drivers’ seat. Vinay made matters worse for Punjab by dismissing Taruwar Kohli (30, 135m, 98b, 6x4).

Karnataka’s position on the points table depends on Mumbai’s game against Odisha, but for that equation to come into the picture they will need to get rid of a sturdy-looking Gurkeerat Singh (56, 104m, 74b, 7x4) and four other Punjab batsmen on the final day.

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