Mithun inspires Karnataka's big win

Mithun inspires Karnataka's big win

Pacer Abhimanyu Mithun spearheaded the charge as a ruthless Karnataka completed the demolition act, posting an innings and 136-run win over Maharashtra in their Group A Ranji Trophy encounter here on Saturday.

The 28-year-old, who set up Karnataka's quest for a hat-trick of wins with an intelligent spell on Friday afternoon, was at the top of his game on a cool final morning as well to knock the stuffing out of a beleaguered Maharashtra at the MCA Stadium.

Mithun (5/66) first removed overnight batsmen Ruturaj Gaikwad (65, 130b, 10x4) and then Rahul Tripathi (51, 55b, 7x4, 1x6) with two well-laid traps. Knowing that the two attack-minded batsmen would go for their shots and were in no mood to grind out a long innings, Mithun consistently kept pitching the ball up, teasing them into driving him. While a few balls did go for boundaries, there were some play-and-misses and a couple of edges as well. Mithun received excellent support from skipper R Vinay Kumar from the other end too.

Both Mithun and Vinay, smelling blood, kept going at the two batsmen ball after ball, bowling around off-stump and Gaikwad eventually succumbed. Mithun served a nice juicy half-volley and Gaikwad stroked the ball straight into the hands of Karun Nair at point. Four overs later, Tripathi, who slammed a counter-attacking century in the first innings, perished in a similar fashion. Seeing the ball pitched up, Tripathi flashed straight to Mayank Agarwal at short cover and Mithun leapt in celebration.

Mithun, menacing and gunning for more, then sent back Chirag Khurana with a peach, squaring the batsman up with an out-swinger. Mithun bagged his ninth first-class five-wicket haul and the superb spell of 7-1-34-3 on the day meant Karnataka were looking at finishing the job much before lunch.

Ronit More, the third pacer in the side, also maintained the pressure on the Maharashtra batsmen. Unlike Mithun, he mixed his lengths up as Karnataka hardly took their foot off the pedal. They rarely let a ball go past them and even spinner K Gowtham, despite not getting much purchase from the wicket, kept it tight.

Nikit Dhumal and wicket-keeper Rohit Motwani delayed the inevitable for a while, stopping the wicket flow for eight overs but the former eventually became More's victim, holing out to Agarwal. Motwani then swung around for short while in the company of the tail before Gowtham and Karun Nair came to hammer the final two nails in the coffin. Maharashtra folded up for 247, their resistance lasting just a little over two hours in the morning.

Karnataka thus posted their third win in as many matches - second innings victory - to remain on top of the table with 20 points. With three group games left, including one at Alur against Delhi from November 9, they stand favourites to seal a quarterfinal spot.

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