Mayank triples Karnataka's joy

Mayank triples Karnataka's joy

A dominant Karnataka primed themselves to post their second innings victory of the season as a battered Maharashtra just collapsed under the humongous pressure applied by the eight-time champions in the Group A Ranji Trophy encounter here on Friday.

While Mayank Agarwal (304 not out, 494b, 28x4, 4x6) and Karun Nair (116, 256b, 13x4) were the architects in the morning session, helping the visitors declare at a mammoth 628/5, the bowlers once again rose to the occasion on a placid pitch, wiping out the Maharashtra top-order to leave them reeling at 135/4.

Hard-working pacer Abhimanyu Mithun kick-started Karnataka's march towards an imminent victory by producing a probing spell in the post-lunch session. Using the nice steady breeze blowing across the MCA Stadium to good effect, Mithun kept adjusting his length beautifully to constantly trouble the Maharashtra batsmen.

The 28-year-old pitched a few balls up and held the length back on some. He didn't refrain from bowling the short stuff as well to have the Maharashtra batsmen in a confused state. Having fielded for near two full days and starting the innings 383 runs in arrears, the weariness was visible amongst the host batsmen who knew they were waging a losing battle.

Mithun got the first breakthrough with a superb delivery that drew Swapnil Gugale forward, the ball swinging away and taking the outside edge to wicketkeeper CM Gautam. Four overs later he sent back Harshad Khadiwale with another fine delivery. This time he bowled it short of a good length and the ball just held its line, taking the outside edge to Gautam. Totally pumped up, Mithun could have had a third later after tea but Pavan Deshpande dropped a sitter at second slip to present battling Ruturaj Gaikwad a lifeline.

Mithun also received excellent support from first-change pacer Ronit More and seasoned all-rounder Stuart Binny. The duo, having observed how Mithun operated on a batting beauty, kept teasing the Maharashtra batsmen with a fine line. More, playing in place of rested senior pro S Arvind, bent his back and his effort was rewarded with the wicket of in-form skipper Ankit Bawne.

Binny, also giving it his all, then removed dangerous Naushad Shaikh with a peach. The ball kicked off from good length, catching Shaikh by surprise who ended up offering a tentative poke and a simple catch to Gautam. Staring down the barrel, Gaikwad and first innings centurion Rahul Tripathi then counter-attacked to push the contest into the final day.

Earlier, Agarwal and Nair set the game nicely for Karnataka, although their approach wasn't a pleasurable sight. One assumed that both the batsmen, after seeing out the opening half-hour, would go after the Maharastra attack in search of quick runs and a longer time to have a crack at their opponents' batting.

But both went about their job very sedately, scoring at just about 2.5 runs per over. Nair tried increasing the tempo after reaching his century but Agarwal continued to bat obdurately to bring up a coveted triple century. He thus became the third Karnataka batsman after K L Rahul and Nair to score a first-class triple ton.

 

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