Battling Assam force draw

Cricket Ranji Trophy : Karthick stands firm with ton to frustrate Karnataka on f

Battling Assam force draw

 A couple of dropped catches in the first session, a missed run-out opportunity, an umpiring decision that went against them and A Mithun’s injury early in the morning combined to foil Karnataka’s desperate bid for a win in their Ranji Trophy season opener.

Nothing, however, was more responsible for the defending champions finishing second best in their Group ‘A’ match than KB Arun Karthick’s defiant unbeaten century (115, 344m, 258b, 15x4, 3x6) which ensured that Assam walked away with three points from this drawn encounter, thanks to their seven-run first innings lead, here at the Barsapara Stadium on Sunday’s final day.

While Assam couldn’t have asked for a better start to their campaign, Karnataka, who had to settle for a solitary point, may have got a wake-up call at the right time.

Needing 358 for a win on the final day, survival was the only option for Assam, who were 30/1 overnight. This was no mean task though. They were up against one of the finest bowling attacks in the country on a supposedly wearing track. With not a sign of rain and given the limited batting resources of Assam, Karnataka were heavily tipped to off-set their first innings batting failure and walk away with six points. The visitors appeared on track to do so when the ever-reliable R Vinay Kumar struck in successive overs to remove overnight batsman Pallav Kumar Das, caught behind, and Amit Verma, lbw, to leave Assam struggling at 40 for three.

This was the right time to squeeze the life out of home team but an injury to a tumbling Mithun set them back a bit; not as much of a wicket-taking option but in terms of distributing the load in the oppressively hot and humid conditions. The paceman, who slipped and hurt his ankle in his follow through at the start of his second over on the day, walked off never to return again. He, however, expressed confidence of being fit for the second match in Bengaluru against Bengal.

A couple of dropped catches off an extremely unlucky J Suchith, first by a combination of CM Gautam and Vinay and then by Karun Nair at second slip, didn’t help their cause any further. The lucky batsman on both occasions was skipper Gokul Sharma (55) who was involved in a 132-run stand (261 balls) for the fourth wicket that deflated Karnataka’s chances. The left-arm spinner eventually got Gokul’s number when the right-hander made room to cut but the ball kept low and crashed into his stumps.

In the same over, Karnataka had a chance to run out Karthick who was half-way down the track but Sharath showed needless hurry and tried a direct hit when he could have relayed the ball to Suchith, positioned right behind the stumps. The throw not only missed the target but also forced Suchith to get out of its way. Suchith’s misfortune continued with umpire Nitin Pandit ruling Karthick not out when the batsman appeared to be plumb in front in his 60s.

Nothing should take anything away from the former Tamil Nadu batsman though. It was as good a match-saving innings as one will get to see. The resolve, the temperament and the technique that he exhibited under a pressure-cooker situation was exemplary. With wide cracks staring at him and an attack as experienced as he was facing, the innings was worth its weight in gold. It was a perfect lesson in batting time; positive without being overly aggressive. The way he farmed the strike with man of the match Syed Mohammed (21 off 96) against Vinay and Sharath, who briefly operated with the new ball though not in tandem, was another impressive part of his innings.

The duo remained unseparated for 32.5 overs as Karnataka toiled hard — only wicketkeeper CM Gautam didn’t bowl on the day — without the desired result.


scoreboard

KARNATAKA (I Innings): 187 all out
ASSAM (I Innings): 194 all out
KARNATAKA (II Innings): 394/8 declared

ASSAM (II Innings; O/n: 30/1): Pallav Das c Gautam b Vinay 26 (75m, 51b, 5x4), Sibsankar Roy lbw Suchith 8 (55m, 30b, 1x4), Gokul Sharma b Suchith 55 (205m, 154b, 5x4, 1x6), Amit Verma lbw Vinay 0 (10m, 3b), KB Arun Karthick (not out) 115 (344m, 258b, 15x4, 3x6), Tarjinder Singh lbw Shreyas 15 (43m, 27b, 3x4), J Syed Mohammed (not out) 21 (128m, 96b, 2x4). Extras (LB-12, NB-7) 19. Total (for 5 wkts, 102 overs) 259.

Fall of wickets: 1-30 (Roy), 2-40 (Pallav), 3-40 (Verma), 4-172 (Gokul), 5-201 (Tarjinder).
Bowling: Vinay Kumar 17-6-41-2, A Mithun 3.1-0-18-0, J Suchith 26-7-60-2, Karun Nair 13-5-24-0, HS Sharath 14.5-4-36-0, R Samarth 4-0-14-0, Shreyas Gopal 18-6-42-1, Mayank Agarwal 2-1-4-0, Robin Uthappa 3-1-8-0, Shishir Bhavane 1-1-0-0.

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