Karnataka keep their noses in front

Shreyas Gopal (right) of Karnataka celebrates after dismissing C G Khurana of Maharashtra on the second day of their Ranji Trophy match in Mysuru on Thursday. DH Photo/ Savitha B R

Karnataka’s strategy to play defensively backfired but Maharashtra’s inexplicable decision to tread the same path meant the hosts remained in front in their Ranji Trophy Group A encounter here on Thursday.

Resuming the day on 70/3 at the SDNRW ground, Karnataka had a great chance to take the game completely away from their opponents but the batsmen’s utter reluctance to embrace adventure for the second day in succession saw them huff and puff to 186 all out in 84.2 overs — a lead of just 73 runs.

Having beaten Karnataka at their own game plan by bowling disciplined lines in helpful conditions, Maharashtra then had the opportunity to swing the match their way. But having been dismissed for 113 runs in the first innings and seeing opener Swapnil Gugale fall for a 11-ball duck in the second, Maharashtra too retreated into a shell and never came out.

Like Karnataka’s run-rate that hovered around 1.5 runs an over before finishing at 2.21, Maharashtra operated at one run an over for the most part that made for extremely boring viewing. Eventually, Maharashtra took stumps at 48/3 in 34 overs, leaving Karnataka ahead by 25 runs.

Karnataka have only themselves to blame for making heavy weather of a game that was theirs for the taking. Despite the defensive ploy coming somewhat unstuck on Wednesday, they chose to go about their business in the very same manner.

Veteran Maharashtra pacers Anupam Sanklecha and Samad Fallah, aware that overnight Karnataka batsmen D Nischal and J Suchith won’t go for their shots, kept pitching the ball up consistently. They teased and tested the duo, eliciting a number of appeals as both Nischal and Suchith played and missed.

Runs came at a trickle and Maharashtra knew a wicket would cause tension in the Karnataka camp and lead to an implosion. That’s exactly what happened when Sanklecha dismissed Nischal. Fallah, bowling a superb spell of 7-4-10-2, accounted for Pavan Deshpande and Suchith while left-arm spinner Satyajeet Bachhav evicted the dangerous BR Sharath to leave Karnataka tottering at 109/7.

Skipper R Vinay Kumar and his deputy Shreyas Gopal then forged a 63-run partnership to rescue Karnataka. Both batted with caution although Vinay swung his bat on a few occasions whenever the opportunity presented itself. Just when the duo looked like taking Karnataka close to the 200-run mark, Bachhav (3/43) and part-time off-spinner Chirag Khurana struck in quick succession just before tea to haul Maharashtra back.

Karnataka bowlers then had to produce another good show to ensure the match didn’t slip away from their hands and they delivered. Vinay and Abhimanyu Mithun were spot-on with their lines and lengths and when the latter rattled Gugale’s stumps, Maharashtra were on the back foot.

Khurana and debutante Jay Pande then kept presenting a dead bat to everything to tire Karnataka but leg-spinner Shreyas removed both of them to ensure the hosts held the upper hand despite self-destructing with the bat.

 

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Karnataka keep their noses in front

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