Mumbai stumble but Karnataka fumble

Mumbai stumble but Karnataka fumble

Pacer Abhimanyu Mithun picked up three wickets to keep Karnataka in the game on the second day against Mumbai. DH FILE PHOTO

For the second straight day, Karnataka failed to seize the advantage as their Group B Ranji Trophy encounter against Mumbai hung in balance ahead of an intriguing penultimate day at the Bandra Kurla Complex ground here.

R Samarth and BR Sharath excelled under pressure before Abhimanyu Mithun produced a three-wicket burst to put Karnataka in a position of strength in the first two sessions. Mumbai didn’t throw in the towel, though. A gutsy show from Sarfaraz Khan and Shams Mulani rescued the hosts.

Disaster struck as early as in the fourth ball of the day for Karnataka when skipper Karun Nair fell caught behind on his overnight score of zero. Despite the early blow, Karnataka, resuming from 79/3, managed a slender first-innings lead of 24 courtesy a lower-order resistance, which has become the theme of the season for the eight-time champions.

Samarth (86, 139b, 13x4) and Shreyas Gopal (31, 85b, 3x4), not new at resurrecting a sinking ship, added 78 runs for the fifth wicket. After the right-handed duo perished in the span of 14 balls, Sharath’s entertaining 46 (54b, 7x4, 1x6), saw Karnataka huff and puff past Mumbai’s modest total of 194. The visitors were bowled for 218 early into the second session.

Mumbai’s batting woes continued in their second essay. By the 11th over, four of their mainstays in Aditya Tare (6), Ajinkya Rahane (1), Siddhesh Lad (4) and Suryakumar Yadav (10) were back in the hut.

It was the fired-up Mithun (3/52) who pushed the hosts to the wall. As if the dismal score of 26/4 wasn’t enough, Mumbai were dealt a bigger blow when star batsman Prithvi Shaw, who suffered an injury to his left shoulder in the first innings, was ruled out of the match.

Sarfaraz (53 not out, 92b, 6x4, 2x6) and Mulani (31, 71b, 5x4) first survived the tough period and then adopted a positive approach to forge an 83-run stand. Karnataka walked off relieved when V Koushik broke the partnership in the last ball of the day. Mulani was the man dismissed when he edged one to Abhishek Reddy at first slip.

Mumbai, who finished at 109/5, were ahead by 85 runs. Karnataka, who will bat fourth on this challenging surface, will know the difficulty of chasing tricky low totals. Nair’s men, who hold a great chance of logging six points, will have to be on their toes on Sunday. 

Samarth’s knock of great concentration and patience came as welcome relief for Karnataka.

The right-hander, who gathered boundaries off his drives, timed the ball well and put a price on his wicket. Karnataka at one point fancied a bigger lead but one loose shot from Shreyas triggered a collapse. 

The all-rounder danced down the track to off-spinner Shashank Attarde (5/58) and played an uppish drive to short-midwicket fielder Suyakumar, who pouched a brilliant flying catch. Samarth, who deserved a ton for his fighting effort, was caught at short leg by Sarfaraz off Shashank. 

Sharath, a flashy batsman, struck to his natural game and attacked Mulani and Shashank. He swept the spin duo for his boundaries and brought up Karnataka’s lead with a cracking sweep six off Shashank. 

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