Karnataka escape with a draw

Karnataka escape with a draw

cricket ranji trophy

Karnataka's R Samarth played a big role in holding off the Saurashtra attack and help his team to a draw. DH file photo

Karnataka’s young and inexperienced batting crop put out a dogged display on the final day of their Ranji Trophy Group B contest against Saurashtra to escape with a fighting draw.

With in-form pacer Jaydev Unadkat constantly asking uncomfortable questions, spinners Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (2/97) and Kamlesh Makwana (1/32) coming at them ball after ball with five fielders breathing down their necks and huge appeals every now and then, Karnataka batsmen were put through the grind by a relentless Saurashtra at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground.

Karnataka, bowled out for a dismal 171 in the first innings and several batsmen struggling for form, however were up for the fight and countered with a gritty display. Opening batsman R Samarth hit a patient 159-ball 74 while teenager Devdutt Padikkal scored a 133-ball 53 as Karnataka posted 220/4 in 89 overs when captains agreed for a truce a little after tea. Karnataka happily grabbed the one point on offer to take their tally to 17 (5 games) while Saurashtra boosted theirs to 16 (4 games).

With their backs to the wall, Karnataka needed a strong start on Tuesday morning if they wished to draw the contest. And Rohan Kadam (42, 132b), opening the batting after regular choice Padikkal was hit by a stomach bug on Monday, and Samarth did just that. Left-arm seamer Unadkat, bowling a nagging line and length in and around the off-stump and moving the ball both ways, kept probing at the duo but they were up for the challenge.

They presented a dead bat to the ones coming in and left the ones moving away. There were a few plays and misses, which are bound to happen, but they were largely solid. They saw off the crucial opening hour without any damage and began to bat more positively in the next hour.

Saurashtra, knowing a wicket could lead to another, kept attacking and finally got their breakthrough just minutes before lunch with Makwana dislodging Kadam.

Unadkat then crashed through the defences of the stubborn Samarth with a sizzling in-swinger right after lunch as Karnataka (120/2) lost both their set batsmen. Saurashtra sensed an opening and intensified the pressure on Karnataka. Left-arm orthodox spinner Jadeja kept landing it in the same area just like his illustrious state-mate Ravindra Jadeja while off-spinner Makwana too bowled tightly.

The pressure and parsimonious bowling brought about the dismissals of KV Siddharth (19) and Pavan Deshpande (12) which injected some tension in the Karnataka camp. But Padikkal and stand-in skipper Shreyas Gopal weathered the storm with disciplined batting. They knew a decent partnership between them would salvage a draw and they delivered it to a nicety. However, with 17 overs remaining for the day, it was surprising to see Saurashtra seek an early end.

“It was disappointing the way we batted in the first innings. So it was crucial to bat well in the second innings and get 1 point,” said a delighted Padikkal. “The pitch stayed the same right through the match. There was a bit of turn and help for the bowlers as is the case on any final day pitch but apart from that, there was nothing difficult.”

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