Karnataka sail into semifinals

First innings lead come handy for hosts who will face Uttar Pradesh in last four

Karnataka sail into semifinals

Mithun (left) celebrates with Rahul Dravid after dismissing Punjab’s Sunny Sohal.  DH PHOTO/ PRASHANTH H GRahul Dravid’s men rode on their 78-run first-innings lead to set up a last-four encounter against Uttar Pradesh at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore from January 3 as the final day’s proceedings at the Gangotri Glades here on a dull Sunday seldom rose above the mediocre.

The onus had entirely been on Punjab to do all the running on the last day of the four-day quarterfinal, but Pankaj Dharmani’s side showed no inclination whatsoever to put even some artificial pressure on a somewhat bemused Karnataka outfit that, however, wasn’t complaining one bit.

Beginning the day on 165 for one, 87 ahead, Punjab had been expected to shed their diffidence of the previous evening and at least try to score rapidly so that they could give their bowlers some time to attempt to bowl Karnataka out.

Instead, for the first two and a half hours, they were content to bat normally without at any stage eyeing quick runs despite the fact that Dravid liberally employed his occasional spinners, Amit Verma and Ganesh Satish.

Had Punjab shown anywhere near as much urgency as they did after lunch when 65 came in just nine overs, the final day wouldn’t have degenerated into something of a farce. By the time Dharmani applied closure at 367 for six, Punjab had left themselves only 39 overs to have a go at Karnataka.

When play was called off by mutual consent before the start of the mandatory overs, Karnataka had made 42 for the loss of CM Gautam, opening the innings in place of Robin Uthappa, who twisted his left ankle during pre-play training on Saturday. Uthappa, however, is expected to be fit for the semifinal.

Towards the end, a casual onlooker would have imagined it was Punjab, rather than Karnataka, who were on the verge of victory. While the Punjab fielders clowned around and even wicket-keeper Uday Kaul had a bowl, KB Pawan and Satish offered a dead blade to every offering as they approached their brief stints in the middle with all seriousness. A lesson there somewhere, surely?

Punjab’s second innings was lit up all too late by a brilliantly improvised innings from Kaul. The little left-hander has been their most prolific scorer this season, and he showed why with a cheeky knock that further exposed the inexplicable Punjab approach.

Sunny Sohal had denied himself a hundred by flashing at A Mithun inside the first 15 minutes, and Mayank Sidana fell a little later after bringing up his half-century, but Punjab steadfastly refused to up the ante. Taruwar Kohli showed some enterprise, but it was Kaul who caught the eye with lazy elegance at the start and naked aggression towards the end.

On a surface that had slowed down considerably from days one and two and where the bounce too had died down to a great extent, there was no joy for Karnataka’s bowlers. Which, at the risk of being repetitive, made Punjab’s approach even more difficult to comprehend, particularly when they were in a nothing-to-lose situation.

R Vinay Kumar finally found some joy with the second new ball as Punjab’s batsmen belatedly tried to force the pace, ending Kaul’s entertaining innings at 86 (165m, 127b, 10x4) and cutting short Vishal Bhatia’s brief flourish with a smart catch by Gautam.
The declaration came shortly, but far too late to change the destination of a match in which the big moments were seized by Karnataka.

Score Board

PUNJAB (I Innings): 300 all out in 92.4 overs.

KARNATAKA (I Innings): 378 all out in 107.1 overs.

PUNJAB (II Innings, O/n: 165/1): Sunny Sohal c Gautam b Mithun 89 (233m, 185b, 13x4), Ravi Inder Singh c Aravind b Joshi 38 (93m, 77b, 5x4), Mayank Sidana c Dravid b Aravind 50 (154m, 120b, 6x4), Uday Kaul c & b Vinay 86 (165m, 127b, 10x4), Taruwar Kohli c Dravid b Verma 35 (84m, 70b, 5x4, 1x6), Vishwas Bhalla c Gautam b Vinay 34 (74m, 50b, 4x4), Rahul Sharma (not out) 10 (17m, 10b, 1x6), Love Ablish (not out) 9 (8m, 7b, 1x6). Extras (B-10, LB-2, NB-4) 16. Total (for 6 wkts decl, 107 overs) 367.

Fall of wickets: 1-72 (Ravi Inder), 2-179 (Sohal), 3-187 (Sidana), 4-257 (Kohli), 5-346 (Kaul), 6-351 (Bhalla).

Bowling: R Vinay Kumar 19-1-79-2 (nb-1), A Mithun 15-3-70-1 (nb-2), S Aravind 24-1-92-1 (nb-1), Sunil Joshi 27-9-48-1, Amit Verma 15-4-38-1, Ganesh Satish 7-0-28-0.
KARNATAKA (II Innings): KB Pawan (not out) 20 (89m, 61b, 2x4), CM Gautam c & b Ablish 4 (24m, 22 b), Ganesh Satish (not out) 17 (64m, 62b, 3x4). Extras (NB-1) 1. Total  (for 1 wkt, 24 overs) 42.

Fall of wicket: 1-15 (Gautam).
Bowling: Love Ablish 6-2-15-1, Harmeet Singh 7-3-14-0, Taruwar Kohli 3-0-4-0, Ravi Inder Singh 4-4-0-0, Rahul Sharma 3-1-5-0, Uday Kaul 1-0-4 -0.

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