More, Shreyas bowl Karnataka to victory

More, Shreyas bowl Karnataka to victory

Karnataka's Shreyas Gopal (centre) being congratulated by his team-mates after dismissing Chhattisgarh's Amandeep Khare on Wednesday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

For the second straight time this season, Karnataka infused life into a dull contest in the final session to clinch an exhilarating win.

If K Gowtham exhibited the never-say-die attitude against Railways in Karnataka’s previous game, this time around it was the in-form duo of Ronit More (4/35) and Shreyas Gopal (4/44) that delivered the firepower to help the eight-time champions register a 198-run win over Chhattisgarh in their Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ encounter at the Alur 1 ground on Wednesday.   

Just after skipper Manish Pandey completed an entertaining century (102 n.o., 102b, 14x4, 1x6), the hosts, overnight 113/4, declared at 219/7 to set their opponents a target of 355 runs. Chhattisgarh had a tricky task of surviving 72 overs. 

The visitors’ batting, which frustrated Karnataka in the first two sessions, suffered a dramatic implosion in the post-tea period. Shreyas and More tore into the Chhattisgarh line-up as the last seven wickets fell in just 14.3 overs for 39 runs.

Their third victory has put Karnataka at the doorsteps of quarterfinals. Manish Pandey’s men, with 27 points from seven games, are second on the combined (A & B) table behind Vidarbha (28 points). Karnataka next face Baroda in an away game from January 7.  

More and Shreyas produced two crucial breakthroughs that turned the game in Karnataka’s favour. At the stroke of lunch, Karnataka’s plan worked to perfection as More dismissed Manoj Singh. With substitute J Suchith placed at short mid-wicket, More sent in a teasing full-length delivery on the pads. Manoj fell for the trap, flicking it to Suchith, who took a brilliant low catch.  

Another moment of brilliance arrived moments before tea. R Vinay Kumar, standing at leg slip, chose to stand at first slip for the third ball of the 42nd over, from Shreyas, and Karnataka got the required result. Amandeep Khare (35) lunged forward for a ball that turned and edged it to Vinay.

After the well set Khare’s departure, skipper Harpreet Singh Bhatia’s (9) fall put Chhattisgarh in deep trouble. Bhatia, who scored a fine century in the first innings, couldn’t make an impact thanks to his poor shot selection. The southpaw just opened the face of the bat to a short ball from More to offer a simple catch to Devdutt Padikkal at gully. Opener Avnish Singh’s (61) gutsy stay ended when he was trapped in front by Shreyas. Karnataka then ran through the Chhattisgarh lower order.

It has been a special season for More. The 26-year-old produced a heartening performance on a surface that had little assistance for fast bowlers. The right-arm pacer stuck to the basics to reap rewards. “I just decided to bowl wicket-to-wicket. On this surface, that was the best option. We were just looking at taking one or two wickets at a time and we wanted to take it forward from there,” said More.