Mukund keeps TN in front

Left-hander slams half-century as visitors crawl to 240 for five

Mukund keeps TN in front

On several occasions, the ball went past achingly close to the bat. A few edges dropped frustratingly short of fielders. Passionate appeals for catches and lbws were made with little  success. For Karnataka, nothing came easy in their quest to gain upper hand over Tamil Nadu.

The pace trio of R Vinay Kumar, S Arvind and HS Sharath displayed perseverance all day. But fortune wasn’t entirely on their side as Tamil Nadu stayed on course for a crucial first innings lead. At close on the second day, the visitors – overnight 22 for no loss – were 240 for five, trailing by 50 runs.

For Tamil Nadu, Abhinav Mukund was the chief protagonist, scoring a dogged 84 (221b, 9x4) and keeping Karnataka at bay for 172 minutes in the company of Dinesh Karthik.
Karnataka began the morning session on Monday with two quick wickets in the day’s eighth and ninth overs. Arvind ousted opener Kaushik Gandhi and Vinay dislodged an in-form Baba Aparajith as Tamil Nadu slipped to 39 for two.

After that early twin success, Karnataka had to toil fruitlessly for the next 37 overs, and 33 of them were bowled between the three pacemen. However, the lack of wickets should not get interpreted as a lack of effort, as they didn’t give too many liberties to Mukund and Karthik, who milked 90 runs for the third-wicket stand off 226 balls.

Deconstructing the spells of three pacers in this period would give us an idea about their doggedness. Vinay bowled two spells 5-1-12-1 and 4-2-12-0. Left-arm seamer Arvind was the thriftiest of the lot and was employed in three spells – 6-4-6-1, 2-0-8-0 and 4-1-6-0. Sharath came in for two spells of 7-3-12-0 and 5-3-7-1.

The wickets column, though, would have had more numbers in it had they adopted a better length. Of course, they were unlucky on some occasions in not finding an edge, however, on various other times they landed the ball too wide or too short allowing batsmen to leave it easily.

Mukund, in particular, and Karthik deserve a pat for keeping Karnataka bowlers on the back foot during that period. Till the 2011-12 season, Mukund has been one of the premier domestic batsmen, scoring truckload of runs at a mindboggling average in the early 60s. But the next two seasons (2012-13 and 2013-14) saw him having a free fall down the ladder, managing just 320 and 475 runs respectively. The only saving grace was a 240 he made against Saurashtra while batting 702 minutes in 2013.

 Here too, Mukund looked primed for a long vigil in the company of an equally determined Karthik. Mukund’s assets are his immense concentration and industriousness and Tamil Nadu needed those traits on this day.

Itt wasn’t that he was entirely incapable of moments of classiness. Once he leaned into the shot to send the ball sizzling to the fence through covers off Arvind, and on another instance he stood tall in the crease to punch the cherry past cover for a four off Sharath.

It required a rather modest piece of umpiring from Paul Wilson, on exchange from Australia, to end the bloating alliance. Karthik looked to run one down the leg and Wilson upheld a fervent appeal for a catch behind when the ball appeared to have missed the bat.

Mukund added another 50 runs for the fifth wicket with skipper R Prasanna, who made a well-crafted fifty for himself, before falling to Sharath.

Karnataka might have sensed a chance to grab some more wickets. But Prasanna and Vijay Shankar added 45 for the unbeaten sixth wicket to thwart all those designs, and keep Tamil Nadu a few steps ahead of the home side.

DH News Service
score board
KARNATAKA (I Innings): 290 all out
TAMIL NADU (I Innings, O/n: 22/0): Kaushik Gandhi lbw Arvind 12 (65m, 59b, 1x4), Abhinav Mukund lbw Sharath 84 (357m, 221b, 9x4), Baba Aparajith c Gautam b Vinay 5 (5m, 7b, 1x4), Dinesh Karthik c Gautam b Sharath 38 (172m, 123b, 7x4), Baba Indrajith lbw Shreyas 6 (29m, 22b, 1x4), R Prasanna (batting) 51 (153m, 115b, 7x4), Vijay Shankar (batting) 18 (74m, 47b, 2x4), Extras (B-19, LB-7) 26, Total (for five wkts, 99 overs) 240
Fall of wickets: 1-34 (Gandhi), 2-39 (Aparajith), 3-129 (Karthik), 4-145 (Indrajith), 5-195 (Mukund).

Bowling: R Vinay Kumar 22-3-62-1, S Arvind 23-6-48-1, HS Sharath 17-9-22-2, Stuart Binny 17-4-46-0, Manish Pandey 5-2-5-0, Shreyas Gopal 9-3-15-1, Karun Nair 6-0-16-0.

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