Karun, Rahul pile misery on TN

Duo slams tons as dominant Karnataka reach 323/5 on day two; lead by 189

Karun, Rahul pile misery on TN

KL Rahul and Karun Nair had this immense task of braving their personal struggles on Monday. Throughout the day, Rahul has been hobbling on one leg after twitching his hamstring. Karun had to ward off negativity from his mind after a modest season in which he had scored just one fifty. And they did that in some style to give Karnataka a definite upper hand over Tamil Nadu here at the Wankhede stadium.

Rahul (131 n.o.) and Karun (130 n.o.) shared a massive 239-run alliance for the sixth wicket as Karnataka ended the second day of their Ranji Trophy final at 323 for five for an overall lead of 189 runs. But those are cold numbers. They would not precisely convey the drama that unfolded here.

Of course, Karnataka, resuming from 45 for four, had averted an immediate disaster in the morning as Abhimanyu Mithun and Karun added 53 runs for the fifth wicket to take the defending champions to 84 before Malolan Rangarajan trapped Mithun lbw. It was the only wicket to fall on the day. Mithun might be a tad disappointed after missing his second straight first-class fifty. He had made a vital 89 against Mumbai.  Tamil Nadu might have rejoiced at that time. After all, Karun has not been in good touch, and Rahul had to bat almost on one leg. Bizarrely though, the Tamil Nadu camp seemed not so keen on exploiting those chinks. Their bowlers lacked the fizz, and their fielders appeared even more casual. Even L Balaji, who rattled the Karnataka top-order on Sunday evening with a three-wicket burst, seemed devoid of energy.

However, that would in no way take anything away from the two Karnataka youngsters. They kept their personal gremlins at bay to take first Karnataka to safety and then to command. Rahul was visibly struggling even to take a single, but he never threw in the towel.

Karun was understandably subdued. Before this match he had made 381 runs from nine matches and his solitary score past 50 had come in the early phase of the season. Pressure on him would have been enormous, but the stocky right-hander never showed it and soldiered on in the company of Rahul.It was Rahul who reached the three-figure mark first. He nudged pacer Vijay Shankar for a couple to the deep to raise his second hundred in as many Ranji finals. He had scored a 131 against Maharashtra at Hyderabad last season. Need a big match player? Pick Rahul in your side.

Karun too soon joined his partner in the club. He flicked left-arm pacer Prashanth Parameswaran to mid-wicket for three runs to reach the landmark. For a moment, Rahul seemed to have forgotten his injured leg. He raced to the other end to embrace Karun. Karnataka camp rose in unison to cheer them. Batting coach J Arun Kumar was pleased as punch. Robin Uthappa sported a wide grin.

But Rahul and Karun didn’t stop. Perhaps, going past the 100-run mark liberated their minds. They began to play with a lot more freedom. Karun soon slammed Parameswaran for three successive fours and no other passage revealed the contrasting mood in the two teams. Karnataka all mirth, and Tamil Nadu a drained lot.

But Karnataka’s work is still not finished. They would have to stretch the lead further on Tuesday to take this match further away from the vision of Tamil Nadu.

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