Rawat, Ghosh lead Railway fightback

Duo forge 158-run partnership to frustrate Karnataka

Mahesh Rawat and Arindam Ghosh launched a superb counter-attack as Railways wrested back some advantage from Karnataka on the second day of Ranji Trophy Group A match on Sunday.

The experience on the circuit and familiarity with home conditions at the Karnail Singh Stadium helped Rawat (86 n.o.) and Ghosh (70 n.o.) score fluent half-centuries against a strong Karnataka attack. With their unbeaten effort of 158 runs for the fifth wicket, they inspired Railways' battle from a shaky 83/4 to one of hope. At close, Railways had raised 241/4 in pursuit of Karnataka's robust first innings total of 434.

The eight-time champions had added 79 to their overnight total of 355/6, courtesy the last wicket partnership of 46 between Shreyas Gopal (43 n.o. off 65 balls) and Abhimanyu Mithun (31 off 30), in the morning. Seamers Karan Thakur and Manish Rao took three wickets each for Railways.

Having to negotiate eight overs in the first session, Railways found their top order rattled by Mithun and off-spinner K Gowtham. Once Mithun succeeded in getting Mrunal Devdhar to nick in the fifth over, Railways suffered a mini collapse post lunch. Shivakant Shukla was trapped leg before when trying to play across against Gowtham. Shortly after, Nitin Bhille and PS Singh, edging to slips, returned to the dressing room in successive overs.

Cornered, Railways looked up to their two best batsmen -- captain Rawat and vice-captain Ghosh. The two responded superbly and provided the hosts what they needed the most -- a partnership. When the two teams returned for tea, Railways were just about getting the pieces together at 118/4. But Rawat, 32, and Ghosh, 31, ensured the hosts completely dominated the last session that produced 123 runs.

The two seniors tackled the Karnataka attack with assurance and made batting look easy. The surface, five sessions old, showed no signs of wear and tear and offered little help to the bowlers. Rawat and Ghosh capitalised on that. They drove with fluency, scored briskly, and fearlessly attacked the bad balls. The two brought their half-centuries in contrasting styles -- Rawat with a boundary and Ghosh with a straight six. The two would be hoping to continue in a similar vein on Monday, but one can count on Karnataka to come all guns blazing in the all important first session.

Karnataka skipper R Vinay Kumar felt they should have bowled better. "The pitch had eased a bit. It was also not the turner that we had expected it to be but they (Rawat and Ghosh) batted beautifully. Maybe we could have bowled and fielded better. I know the boys gave their best but Railways played good cricket and we must respect them."

Rawat observed, "The pitch was not easy to bat on. The whole season we missed having partnerships and things worked for us today. I and Arindam complement each other and we concentrated on playing the ball on merit." The approach worked well for Railways who would approach the third day with renewed confidence and optimism.



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