Karnataka in command after Binny hundred

Hosts take massive 189 runs lead over RoI

Karnataka in command after Binny hundred

With the National selectors set to pick the squads for the forthcoming Asia Cup and World T20 here on Tuesday, Stuart Binny followed up his three-wicket haul on Monday with a swashbuckling century on the second day of the Irani Cup to firmly place himself in contention for a berth for the twin tournaments. Talk about timing!

As making statements goes, this one was as emphatic as it could get. During the four completed matches in the five-match ODI series in New Zealand, the all-rounder got no more than an over to bowl in the only match he played. The 29-year-old, however, put that disappointment behind him and channelised his energies in the right direction to help Karnataka take firm grip of the match against Rest of India here at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Overnight 35/1, Karnataka, in reply to RoI’s first innings total of 201 all out, finished the third day’s proceedings on a commanding 390 for five. The hosts now enjoy a lead of 189 with Binny (115 batting, 183m, 107b, 13x4, 3x6) and CM Gautam (6 batting) looking to swell it further.  

On a two-paced pitch, where the odd ball stayed low, Karnataka players had the will to spend time in the middle and the technique to negotiate the moving ball. The in-form KL Rahul (35) couldn’t defend an Anureet Singh’s delivery that rose just above ankle and shaped in sharply but his overnight companion Ganesh Satish (84, 266m, 180b, 11x4) justified the team management’s faith to stick with him ahead of another form batsman Amit Verma. The right-hander, who struck a crucial century against Maharashtra in the Ranji final, continued his resurgence with another significant innings that was marked by exquisite drives and delicate dabs. A pleasing batsman to watch when in flow, Ganesh, overnight seven off 39, scored the next 43 for his half-century in just 54 balls with a series of hits to fence, including three in a row off Ashok Dinda.

The 25-year-old ceded ground to Manish Pandey (36) once Rahul departed but held one end up firmly. In the process of his knock, he recorded three 50-plus partnerships that gave the perfect platform for Binny to lay into the Rest attack. He added 75 runs for the second wicket with Rahul, 61 with Pandey and 52 with Karun Nair (92, 237m, 161b, 12x4) before falling caught-behind off Harbhajan Singh to a debatable verdict.  
   Binny joined hands with Nair when Karnataka were just 14 runs shy of overhauling the Rest total and the fire and ice approach of the two deflated the Rest bowlers who couldn’t make use of helpful conditions in the morning. Once Ganesh began to attack them, they bowled wide outside off-stump and moved the ball away from there, posing little threat to the batsmen. Harbhajan began brightly but once Binny took him for 22 runs in two overs, he took himself off the attack. And the off-spinner leaked another 17 runs in two on his return, restricting himself to 14 overs for the day. Leggie Amit Mishra had a worse day but to be fair to the spinners, there was neither much turn nor bounce off the wicket.

For Binny and Nair, however, it made little difference as to who was operating.

 Admittedly, the pitch had become better to bat but the ruthless domination exposed the inadequacies in the Rest attack. Nair, without being too cautious, played an ideal foil to an aggressive Binny who cantered to his eighth first-class ton in just 82 balls. Nair, with three tons in four matches, could have notched up his fourth three-figure score but an error in judgement saw him depart just short. While leaving a Pankaj Singh delivery in the corridor, he bottom-edged it on to stumps to return to the hut with just eight needed for a debut Irani hundred.      

The Rest though had no answer to Binny’s belligerence and he punished them with impunity. Barring Pankaj (2/78), who bowled better than his figures reflect, no other Rest bowler threatened to take wickets and if they don’t make early inroads on the third morning, they might as well give up hope of retaining the Cup.

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