Punjab bowlers hit back on day two

Cricket: Ranji Trophy: Karnataka batsmen struggle to reach 265 for six after bowling out visitors for 300

Punjab bowlers hit back on day two


All grace: Karnataka opener Robin Uthappa drives one to the fence during his 91 in Mysore on Friday. DH photo/ Prashanth HGHaving taken the Super League by storm with a mountain of runs, Karnataka came unstuck in their first experience of a knockout situation, in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals against Punjab.

Even allowing for the fact that the pitch continued to encourage the bowlers on day two and that Punjab possessed a trio of medium to fast-medium exponents, Karnataka flattered to deceive at the Gangotri Glades on Friday.

Having rolled over the last Punjab wicket inside the first ten minutes to dismiss the visitors for 300, Karnataka had every reason to believe their in-form and red-hot line-up would bat themselves into a position of command. Instead, they had battled along to 265 for six when bad light stopped play, 36 shy of the first-innings lead which might not prove decisive but which is any team’s first target in a knockout game.

Had it not been for Robin Uthappa’s controlled belligerence at the top and Manish Pandey’s intelligence and enterprise later on, Karnataka could have found themselves in even greater trouble. Uthappa (91, 182m, 118b, 14x4, 1x6) addressed the demands of the situation in exemplary fashion on his way to his highest score this season while Pandey showcased his wonderful talent once again with an undefeated 76 (165m, 107b, 8x4, 1x6) upon which he must build handsomely on the morrow for Karnataka to open up a useful advantage.

Ganesh Satish and skipper Rahul Dravid promised much but fell at inappropriate moments, symbolic of Karnataka’s batting on the day. Every time they appeared primed to seize the advantage, Karnataka lost a wicket, and were forced to consolidate when they could otherwise have looked to press on.

To their credit, Love Ablish, Harpreet Singh and the frugal Manpreet Gony bowled with great discipline and, feeding off the bounce and lateral movement which without being threatening still brooked careful watching, asked tough questions. Pankaj Dharmani used the three in short, sharp bursts throughout a hot day as he tried, not without success, to keep the batsmen on their toes.

No praise can be too high for the manner in which Uthappa approached the task at hand. Losing opening partner KB Pawan early, the right-hander survived understandable early anxiety before coming into his own.

The length the medium-pacers bowled meant he gathered a lot of runs behind square, but whenever they pitched it up, he was quickly on to the front foot and driving with elegance and power.

Satish kept Uthappa good company during a second-wicket stand of 61 (87m, 105b) before throwing his hand away with a loose drive, while Uthappa and Dravid realised 74 (77m, 107b) for the third, an association totally dominated by the former. Uthappa took Rahul Sharma to the cleaners with a stunning and calculated assault, but it was the leggie who had the last laugh, eliciting a tame return catch.

Dravid never looked in total command, but as is his wont, he dug himself in and looked set for the long haul before being undone by an Ablish delivery that got big on him and which he dragged on.

When Amit Verma and CM Gautam fell cheaply, Karnataka were staring down the barrel at 217 for six. Fortunately for them, a determined Sunil Joshi watched from the best seat in town as Pandey mixed impeccable defence with wondrous strokeplay, showing maturity and cricketing acumen way beyond his years. The seventh-wicket pair has put on 48 already; Karnataka will be hoping many more are in store.

Score Board
PUNJAB (I Innings, O/n: 292/9): Sunny Sohal c Uthappa b Mithun 16 (27m, 23b, 2x4), Ravi Inder Singh c Satish b Mithun 30 (63m, 35b, 6x4), Mayank Sidana c Uthappa b Vinay 37 (82m, 56b, 7x4), Uday Kaul c Dravid b Joshi 68 (207m, 145b, 6x4), Pankaj Dharmani c Pandey b Vinay 29 (80m, 58b, 5x4), Taruwar Kohli c Pandey b Vinay 5 (18m, 18b, 1x4), Vishwas Bhalla (not out) 70 (165m, 148b, 10x4), Rahul Sharma c Gautam b Joshi 0 (12m, 7b), Manpreet Gony b Joshi 0 (6m, 7b), Love Ablish b Joshi 26 (36m, 30b, 3x4), Harmeet Singh b Aravind 11 (48m, 34b, 2x4). Extras (B-1, LB-6, NB-5) 12. Total (all out, 92.4 overs) 300.

Fall of wickets: 1-19 (Sohal), 2-50 (Ravi Inder), 3-96 (Sidana), 4-150 (Dharmani), 5-160 (Kohli), 6-209 (Kaul), 7-211 (Sharma), 8-215 (Gony), 9-251 (Ablish).

Bowling: R Vinay Kumar 23-4-100-3 (nb-2), A Mithun 18-5-53-2, S Aravind 23.4-3-70-1 (nb-3), Sunil Joshi 25-8-62-4, Amit Verma 3-0-8-0.

KARNATAKA (I Innings): Robin Uthappa c & b Sharma 91 (182m, 118b, 14x4, 1x6), KB Pawan lbw Harmeet 1 (16m, 13b), Ganesh Satish c Kaul b Ablish 29 (87m, 54b, 5x4), Rahul Dravid b Ablish 36 (103m, 72b, 5x4), Manish Pandey (batting) 76 (165m, 107b, 8x4, 1x6), Amit Verma c Kaul b Gony 1 (19m, 13b), CM Gautam c Kaul b Kohli 11 (53m, 41b, 2x4), Sunil Joshi (batting) 13 (65m, 46b, 3x4). Extras (LB-5, NB-2) 7. Total (for 6 wkts, 77 overs) 265.

Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Pawan), 2-72 (Satish), 3-146 (Uthappa), 4-170 (Dravid), 5-188 (Verma), 6-217 (Gautam). Bowling: Love Ablish 22-3-73-2 (nb-1), Harmeet Singh 17-4-62-1, Manpreet Gony 18-5-35-1 (nb-1), Rahul Sharma 16-3-72-1, Taruwar Kohli 4-0-18-1.

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