More wrests command for Karnataka

Karnataka paceman Ronit More (centre) is congratulated by team-mates after dismissing a Mumbai batsman in the Ranji Trophy game at Belagavi on Thursday. DH PHOTO/ Tajuddin Azad

If Karnataka found a saviour in K V Siddharth during their first innings batting, Ronit More emerged the unlikely hero with the ball.

Having broken Mumbai’s second-wicket partnership on the second day with what turned out to be the last ball of the day, the paceman added four more wickets to his figures for only his second career five-wicket haul (5/53) as Karnataka dismissed the visitors for a paltry 205 in 85.5 overs on the third and penultimate day of their Group A Ranji Trophy tie here at the KSCA Stadium on Wednesday.  

Mumbai, overnight 99/2, thus conceded a massive 195-run lead which shot up to 276 after Karnataka, who expectedly decided against enforcing the follow-on, finished the day’s proceedings at 81 for three. Karnataka lost both their openers cheaply but Mir Kaunain Abbas (25) and Siddharth (30 batting) shared a 56-run stand for the third wicket to dash any slim hopes that Mumbai would have nursed.

With three points all but ensured, it remains to be seen if Karnataka continue to bat on what has remained a good batting surface or declare sometime in the morning session to aim for what at this moment appears an improbable win.

If they decide to bat, it may serve twin purposes. It will provide their young and inexperienced batting group with some much-needed match time but more importantly, it will give some quality rest to their pacemen. With fitness issues bogging their regular skipper and pace spearhead R Vinay Kumar, they can ill-afford to see any other bowler break down with a long season ahead.

The start to the day hardly gave any signs of things to come for More who was clubbed for fours in his first full over of the day by Suryakumar Yadav. Prasidh Krishna (2/33), on the other hand, gave Karnataka the big breakthrough in the next over by seeing the back of Jay Bista (70) who was out after adding just one run to his overnight total. After the drubbing in the previous over, More came back with perfect riposte though. The right-arm quick had an over-ambitious Yadav caught at third-man, the shot belying batsman’s wealth of experience.

Soon he had another experienced batsman’s number in Aditya Tare who nicked one behind the wicket to leave Mumbai teetering at 119 for five. Dubbed Mumbai’s 'crisis man', Siddesh Lad wasn’t doing any harm to his sobriquet during a brief stage when he and Shivam Dubey (16, 125m, 72b) appeared to stem the rot but Prasidh put paid to their hopes. His short delivery stopped a bit and climbed too high for Lad to clear mid-off where Stuart Binny took a brilliant catch by lunging forward.  

Skipper Dhawal Kulkarni and Dubey ensured Mumbai went into lunch without further damage at 166/6 but upon resumption, Karnataka’s stand-in captain Shreyas Gopal (2/31) struck in successive overs to dismiss both batsmen.

Shams Mulani and Karsh Kothari frustrated Karnataka a bit by refusing to throw in the towel but More ended the resistance when Shreyas brought him from the pavilion end. The 26-year-old had a pulling Mulani caught behind while last man Badrey Alam was lured into a shot that resulted in a simple scoop to J Suchith, deservedly giving the hard-working paceman a five-for.

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More wrests command for Karnataka

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