Dravid's gem puts UP in a corner

Cricket: Ranji Trophy: Captains brilliant double century powers Karnataka to 575 for seven on day two

Dravid's gem puts UP in a corner

Rahul Dravid came into the last-four showdown against last year’s finalists Uttar Pradesh as one of only two Karnataka top-order batsmen without a century this season. On a warm Monday at the Chinnaswamy stadium, the prolific right-hander set the record straight with a monumental double hundred, an epic compilation noteworthy both for its conception and its execution.

Karnataka’s plan upon winning toss was to pile up the runs and transfer pressure on to Uttar Pradesh. Dravid’s fifth Ranji double ton ensured that plan was implemented flawlessly as Karnataka declared their first innings closed at 575 for seven, then reduced the visitors to 11 for two in the seven overs to stumps.

Shivakant Shukla’s needless run out courtesy a direct hit from point by Amit Verma was followed almost instantaneously by A Mithun beating night watchman Bhuvneshwar Kumar for pace and trapping him in front to round off an excellent day for Karnataka, who have every reason to believe that they have one foot already in next week’s title clash.

Dravid (209 n.o., 500m, 340b, 26x4, 1x6) will not be available for the final – Test duty in Bangladesh beckons – so he steeled himself to do the best possible under the circumstances, which was to steer his team into a position of great strength. The game was delicately poised with the second day’s play began with Karnataka on 255 for four; Dravid’s masterpiece decisively tilted the scales in the hosts’ favour.

 There were handsome contributions through the order – the lowest by a specialist bat was Robin Uthappa’s 32 – but it needed one defining innings to propel Karnataka to a commanding position. Not surprisingly, that defining knock came from the broad willow of a big-match player who has made rising to the occasion a very unique trait.

 A week shy of his 37th birthday, Dravid seldom put a foot wrong. For one Praveen Kumar over in his 70s, he was troubled more by the lack of bounce in the strip than the bowler’s skills. Apart from that, he was almost always in supreme control, happy to play his strokes and determined to cash in on time spent gauging the track on the first day.

Dravid’s approach to first-class cricket has been no less intense than to international cricket. There might have been moments when on Monday, by his own jocular admission, the cool comfort of the dressing room would have appeared a welcome proposition; as things turned out, had Dravid pursued that line of thought, it would have been UP who would have welcomed that development.

The day began fairly brightly for Mohammad Kaif’s men when R Vinay Kumar was adjudged leg before by Sanjay Hazare off the hard-working Rudra Pratap Singh inside the first 25 minutes.

From there, however, things went dramatically south for Uttar Pradesh as Dravid associated himself in successive century stands with Verma, CM Gautam and Sunil Joshi, each holding his own and making sure the skipper wasn’t left to play a lone hand.
An already forgettable day for Kaif was further soured when square-leg umpire K Hariharan called the UP skipper for ‘chucking.’

 Dravid’s unconquered eight-hour vigil was noteworthy not merely for how many runs he made, but also for the manner in which he got his young charges to put their heads down and bat the team into a win-win situation. Verma was a bundle of nerves to start with, especially unsure of where his off-stump was, while Gautam’s desperation to shed a string of low scores was all too obvious.

The captain guided both young men through initial uncertainty, and to their credit, the two responded admirably during respective stands of 100 and 107, both of which ended through ill-advised adventurism. Joshi played his part in a further stand of 101 when the declaration came, a little after Dravid creamed Bhuvneshwar through covers for his 200, and celebrated it with a straight six that clattered into the press box.

Karnataka (I Innings, O/n: 255/4): Robin Uthappa lbw Gupta 32 (69m, 51b, 5x4), KB Pawan c Amir b RP Singh 52 (202m, 167b, 7x4), Ganesh Satish c Amir b RP Singh 49 (137m, 121b, 5x4), Rahul Dravid (not out) 209 (500m, 340b, 26x4, 1x6), Manish Pandey c Kaif b Praveen 66 (145m, 107b, 11x4), R Vinay Kumar lbw RP Singh 10 (33m, 29b, 1x4), Amit Verma st Amir b Chawla 42 (117m, 77b, 8x4), CM Gautam b Gupta 44 (109m, 95b, 3x4), Sunil Joshi (not out) 41 (87m, 70b, 4x4, 1x6). Extras (B-15, LB-11, W-3, NB-1) 30. Total (for 7 wkts decl, 176 overs) 575.

Fall of wickets: 1-42 (Uthappa), 2-137 (Pawan), 3-138 (Satish), 4-246 (Pandey), 5-267 (Vinay), 6-267 (Verma), 7-474 (Gautam). Bowling: Rudra Pratap Singh 33-5-93-3, Praveen Kumar 31-12-69-1, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 23-2-84-0 (w-3), Praveen Gupta 27-5-100-2, Piyush Chawla 44-9-130-1, Shivakant Shukla 5-1-15-0, Parvinder Singh 6-1-24-0, Rohit Prakash 5-0-13-0, Mohammad Kaif 2-0-21-0 (nb-1).

Uttar Pradesh (I Innings): Tanmay Srivastava (batting) 11 (30m, 23b, 2x4), Shivakant Shukla (run out) 0 (19m, 13b), Bhuvneshwar Kumar lbw Mithun 0 (3m, 1b), Mohammad Kaif (batting) 0 (6m, 5b). Total (for 2 wkts, 7 overs) 11.

Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Shukla), 2-11 (Bhuvneshwar). Bowling: R Vinay Kumar 2-1-10-0, A Mithun 3-3-0-1, Sunil Joshi 2-1-1-0.

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