Karnataka begin victory push

Karnataka begin victory push

Karnataka begin victory push

Karnataka’s wait is almost over. For them the triumph is just a day and seven wickets away.

After piling up a humongous 762 all out, the second highest total in a Ranji Trophy final, Karnataka had reduced Tamil Nadu to 113 for three at close on day four here on
Wednesday. Just for the record, TN are trailing by 515 runs.

That’s the obvious story numbers would tell you – Karnataka’s utter domination. But they won’t tell you how they reached there. They started the day at 618 for seven with Karun Nair batting on 310 and R Vinay Kumar on 41.

The overall lead at that point was 484, sufficient enough for an early declaration and to press for an outright victory. But Karnataka never were interested in a declaration. First, they waited for Karun to overtake Gul Mohammad’s 319, the highest individual score in a Ranji final.

The right-hander reached 320 to obliterate a record that was set in 1946-47 with a single off L Balaji. Pacer Vijay Shankar soon trapped Karun leg before for 328, the tenth highest score in Vinay then was on 48 and there was no personal milestone in the vicinity. So, was the declaration coming? The sight of S Arvind punching the gloves with Vinay answered that query. Tamil Nadu would have to spend some more torturous time on the field.

Vinay and Arvind batted together for 19.3 overs to milk 83 runs for the ninth wicket. During that partnership, Vinay moved gradually towards his second first-class hundred and Arvind notched up his maiden first-class fifty. By the time that partnership ended through the dismissal of Arvind (50), Tamil Nadu were crushed under a mountain of runs.
Vinay was on 77 then. So would Karnataka spare Tamil Nadu of nearly three days of misery? Karnataka were no mood to accord such generosities to their rivals. Vinay and H S Sharath, Karnataka’s last wicket pair, batted for 59 more minutes to add 36 runs. Vinay reached his second first-class hundred as Karnataka continued to rack in runs.

If there ever was a sight of trampling an opposition without mercy this was that. Yes, some would find fault in Karnataka’s decision to bat on. In their minds, Karnataka could have declared in the first session itself and pressed for a fourth-day victory. For them, this was akin to flogging a dead sheep. And they might even attribute the move to a negative mindset.

Nothing could be farther from truth. Perhaps, the team management was confident about their bowlers’ ability to bundle out Tamil Nadu for the second time in this match in just over a day, even on a slow, flat Wankhede stadium pitch. Perhaps, they didn’t want to stretch the bowlers considering the Irani Trophy is just a few days away. But that’s the topic for some other time.

Karnataka bowlers had 40 overs to bowl this day and they exploited them to the hilt. They were relentless as they were in the first innings. M Vijay and Abhinav Mukund can bat for long period and they have shown it on a couple of occasions this season.  
However, the nagging accuracy of Vinay and Shreyas Gopal accounted for them as Karnataka made a massive dent on Tamil Nadu’s hopes of hanging on to a draw.

Shreyas’ leg-spin soon ended Baba Indrajith’s stay a few minutes before the close. Now, this could be a night full of dreams for the Karnataka players. Images of seven wickets and a glittering trophy will be the most vibrant among them.

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