Karnataka begin tricky chase

Karnataka begin tricky chase

Karnataka's Devdutt Padikkal in action during his unbeaten knock of 33 against Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy match in Mysuru on Friday. DH Photo/ Savitha B R

Karnataka endured some worrying moments but they braved it all to maintain their grip on their Ranji Trophy Group A game against Maharashtra here on Friday.

The hosts were dealt a severe blow at the start of the third day when lead pacer Abhimanyu Mithun was rendered hors de combat after he suffered an ankle injury the previous evening. A bowler short at the start of an innings is never easy on the rest of the attack and they struggled to bowl out a gutsy Maharashtra side who fought back brilliantly through Ruturaj Gaikwad (89, 161b, 7x4, 1x6), nightwatchman Satyajeet Bachhav (28, 99b, 5x4) and Naushad Shaikh (73, 121b, 5x4, 1x6) at the SDNRW ground.

The trio’s heroics powered Maharashtra to 256 all out, leaving Karnataka with a tricky target of 184. Much hinged on the young opening pair of D Nischal and Devdutt Padikkal and the two gave a good account of their talent as Karnataka took stumps at a comfortable 54/0. They will now be hoping to bat positively on the final day and register their first outright win of the season.

Things though were trying for much of Thursday for Karnataka. They just couldn’t break the overnight pair of Gaikwad and Bachhav, who raised 60 runs for the fourth wicket. Seasoned R Vinay Kumar (3/41) bowled a probing five-over spell in the morning when he elicited two edges off Gaikwad. To the skipper’s dismay, Kaunain Abbas dropped a sitter in the third over of the day while the second one fell short.

Gaikwad and southpaw Bachhav maintained their composure against disciplined bowling from both ends to frustrate Karnataka. They saw off the tense opening hour — overcast conditions and tricky pitch making their task even more difficult — and slowly began to grow in confidence, mixing caution with aggression.

Nothing going their way, Karnataka kept motivating themselves by saying “one wicket and two more will fall”. That’s exactly what happened when Shreyas Gopal (4/64) trapped Bachhav leg-before with a faster one. Rohit Motwani and skipper Rahul Tripathi came and went in a hurry, the former falling to part-timer Pavan Deshpande and latter to Shreyas. 

With their tails up, Karnataka smelled blood and a fast end to the match. But Gaikwad and Naushad Shaikh refused to throw in the towel and scripted a superb fightback. Gaikwad brought up the first half-century of the match and Shaikh followed suit later. The duo shared the highest partnership of the match so far — 106 runs.

Although a bowler short indeed made things difficult for them, Karnataka also fielded poorly with Abbas dropping a second catch — an absolute sitter off Shaikh. Thankfully, the brilliance and heart of Vinay, who dismissed both Gaikwad and Shaikh, meant the target didn’t touch danger level. Vinay also reached another milestone, surpassing 450 first-class dismissals.  

Nischal and Padikkal then put their hands up in the final session to leave the hosts primed for victory.