Karun ton bolsters Karnataka

Hyderabad 92/2 chasing a victory target of 380

Karun ton bolsters Karnataka

 Karun Nair once again proved he is a second innings-master with a superb century to hand Karnataka a strong chance to collect full points against Hyderabad in their Group ‘A’ tie here at the KSCA Navule Stadium on Thursday.

Karun, the crisis man of Karnataka, showcased his ability to revel under pressure with a 134 (229b, 17x4) as the hosts set a daunting target of 380 after being bowled out for 332 in their second essay.

Hyderabad, who let Karnataka off the hook after pushing them to a precarious 57/4 on the second day, stumbled early in their second innings to be reduced for 50/2. But skipper Ambati Rayudu (18 batting) and opener Tanmay Agarwal (43 batting) kept their team’s hopes intact with an unbroken 42-run stand as the visitors finished at 92/2 at end of day’s play.

With 288 runs needed and eight wickets in hand on the final day, there is still a lot of work to do for Hyderabad. They will take confidence from the way Rayudu and Agarwal battled it out. R Vinay Kumar’s men will be aiming to break the duo’s resistance to expose the fragile lower-order.

Karun, who enjoyed good support from Stuart Binny (72, 144b, 8x4, 1x6), stood tall with an innings of great temperament. The right-handed duo denied any early breakthrough to Hyderabad on the third and penultimate day and forged what should be a match-winning partnership of 160 runs.

Mehdi Hasan’s four-wicket burst on Wednesday had forced Karun and Binny to embrace a cautious approach on the third day but they unsettled the rhythm of Hyderabad spinners with free-flowing play in the first session. Binny drove Pragyan Ojha through the covers for a boundary in the very first over to signal his intentions.

Binny, who got a reprieve when he was trapped leg before off a no-ball from leg-spinner Akash Bhandari at 49, threw his wicket away later. The all-rounder was Mehdi’s fifth victim (5/88) when his lofted shot couldn’t clear long off. Karun, who enjoyed a bit of luck when a couple of his edges flew to the boundary ropes, batted with great intent.

The 25-year-old exhibited the variety in his armour to be at ease against the spinners. With neatly-executed sweep shots and cracking cuts off the back foot, Karun scripted his 11th first-class century. R Vinay Kumar (14) and Abhimanyu Mithun (0) fell in quick succession off Akash Bhandari and it prompted Karun to play the big shots to further increase Karnataka’s lead.

The crafty batsman’s ploy didn’t last long as he departed while attempting an inside-out shot off Bhandari (3/64). It hurt Hyderabad’s cause that the right-arm medium pacer Mohammed Siraj, their star performer in the first innings, could only bowl one over on the day due to a stomach cramp.

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