Karnataka prevail in tense finish

Vinay's men ward off a battling Hyderabad to post a 59-run win and soar to top of table

Karnataka prevail in tense finish

Karnataka endured a tough final session and a nervy period of play to defeat Hyderabad by 59 runs to notch their second successive victory in the Ranji Trophy here at the KSCA Navule Stadium on Friday.

For the crowd that swelled as the day progressed and for the home team, the Group A contest had appeared to head towards an anti-climax on the final day.

After setting a daunting target of 380 to Hyderabad and pegging them back by picking wickets at regular intervals, R Vinay Kumar’s men almost let the game slip out of their hands. B Sandeep (80, 205b, 10x4) and Ashish Reddy (57 n.o., 98b, 5x4, 3x6) churned out performances which were just what the doctored for Hyderabad, who had resumed the day at 92/2.

Both the batsmen put price on their wickets and exhibited great fortitude to keep Hyderabad in hunt. As the match headed to the final session, all three results -- a Karnataka win, an upset victory for Hyderabad or a draw were a possibility. At 270 for 7, Hyderabad needed 101 runs from 26 overs with the well set duo in the middle.

Karnataka had to pull a rabbit out of their hats and the moment the home side waited for arrived through the ever-reliable Vinay who dismissed the dangerous Sandeep. The skipper castled the southpaw as Karnataka scented victory. Leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal (4/91) removed Ravi Kiran and then took a brilliant return catch offered by Mohammed Siraj as Hyderabad’s second innings ended at 320.

The hard-fought victory fetched Karnataka six points and put them on top of Group ‘A’ with 13 points. Karnataka next face Maharashtra in Pune from November 1.

Even as the Karnataka bowlers tirelessly hunted for wickets, their average fielding let them down. Vinay, who was smart with his bowling changes, dropped two catches in the match while Rahul missed one in slips. The out-fielding too left a lot to be desired. 

They might not have taken their side across the line, but Sandeep and Ashish were instrumental in keeping the interest alive on the fourth day. Despite wickets falling from one end, Sandeep never went into a shell and paced his innings brilliantly. Shooting pain duo to stomach spasms notwithstanding, Ashish essayed a fighting knock. The right-hander left the ground in pain after smashing two sixes, both off Shreyas, only to return after the fall of the sixth wicket to keep Karnataka waiting. 

Earlier, it looked like Hyderabad would fold up tamely after their skipper Ambati Rayudu failed to last long. The right-hander was caught at first slip by Rahul off Stuart Binny for 31. Opener Tanmay Agarwal too made little difference and added just one run to his overnight score of 43.

Akash Bhandari (28) looked good at the middle in company of Sandeep but he was bowled through the gate by K Gowtham (3/92). Hyderabad battled on despite the blow but Karnataka had the last laugh in the final session.

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