Vidarbha eye historic final berth as Karnataka slip

Karnataka reduced to 111/7 in pursuit of 198-run target for win

Vidarbha eye historic final berth as Karnataka slip

The seaming track at the Eden Gardens witnessed an absorbing battle here on Wednesday, and expectedly pacers called the shots.

Not unlike on the first day, 13 wickets tumbled and when bad light stopped play, Karnataka's terrific season looked all-but-over. Their in-form batting line-up suffered a collapse. Chasing 198 for a place in the final, R Vinay Kumar's men were reeling at 111/7 when bad light stopped  fourth day's play of their Ranji Trophy semifinal against Vidarbha.

The nerves of playing their first ever semifinal were evident in Vidarbha on the opening day of the contest. But as the game has progressed, the underdogs have grown in confidence and have embraced a fearless approach. As the fifth and final day beckons, they stand just three wickets away from scripting history.

The last "recognised" batting pair of Vinay (19) and Shreyas Gopal (1) are in the middle, and needing 87 to win, Karnataka know they have a humungous task in their hand. Had Wasim Jaffer not dropped a sitter at slips to give Shreyas a reprieve, Vidarbha would have been in a much stronger position.    

A gutsy half-century from Aditya Sarwate (55, 92b, 5x4, 1x6) and a splendid bowling from the trio of Rajneesh Gurbani (4/35), Siddesh Neral (2/37) and Umesh Yadav (1/32) fashioned Vidarbha's comeback. Resuming the day from 195/4, with a lead of 79 runs, Vidarbha were in trouble when they lost four quick wickets. However, Sarwate stitched two crucial partnerships – 38 runs with Umesh (13) and 30 with number 11 Gurbani (7) – to take his side to a good total of 313 all out.

Facing a tricky target, Karnataka required a good start but the Vidarbha speedsters were up for the challenge. The young Gurbani, who is turning out to be the hero for Vidarbha this season, was lethal. He backed his five-wicket haul in the first innings with an effort of 4/35. The 24-year-old procured great movement and was tough to handle for the batsmen. Getting the ball to pitch on middle and off, Gurbani did the basics right and scalped the three important wickets of Karun Nair (30), C M Gautam (24) and Stuart Binny (0). That Gurbani was supported by the disciplined bowling from Neral and Umesh further strengthened Vidarbha's chances.

After they lost Mayank Agarwal early, Karnataka went into a shell and that mounted pressure on them. D Nischal looked edgy throughout the stay. Following a 44-ball seven stay, the right-hander threw away his wicket playing an expansive drive. A 41-run stand between Gautam and Nair was broken by Gurbani which triggered the collapse.

Players from both sides seemed unhappy with the decisions made by the on field umpires and the theme continued on the fourth day as well. Samarth was   shocked after being given out leg before wicket and showed his bat before taking a long walk to the dressing room. Gautam pointed towards his pads after he was adjudged caught behind to a ball that gave the impression of not having made any contact with the bat. Earlier in the day, Aditya Sarwate was disappointed when he was ruled leg-before wicket. Incidentally, all the decisions were made by Pashschim Pathak.

In the morning, Binny gave Karnataka the breakthrough with the first ball of his spell when he had Akshay Wadkar caught at first slip. It was a quality bowling from Binny and he bagged another wicket in the first ball of his next over. Ganesh Satish (81, 168b, 10x4), the man who initiated Vidarbha's fight, fell to a tame pull short. But Karnataka let the Vidarbha tail wag long and it proved costly.

 

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