Sharath, Nischal provide the edge

Karnataka’s B R Sharath celebrates after completing his ton on his debut on the third day of their Ranji Trophy match against Vidarbha in Nagpur on Wednesday.

The job was only half done on Tuesday. But rookies B R Sharath and D Nischal batted with the same hunger and purpose to put Karnataka on top against Vidarbha at the end of the third day of their Elite Group ‘A’ Ranji Trophy game at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium on Wednesday.   

Sharath’s first-class debut turned special with his 103-run (161b, 20x4) knock while Nischal’s (113, 338b, 10x4) hard work paid off as Karnataka, resuming from 208 for five, posted 378 all out, grabbing a first innings lead of 71.

In their second essay, Vidarbha lost both their openers quickly but the experienced duo of Wasim Jaffer (21 not out) and Ganesh Satish (24 not out) batted with composure to take the score to 72 for two at stumps.

The defending champions, leading by one run, will know the importance of playing sensibly in the first session on the final day. Karnataka will take heart from their superb comeback from a worrying position of 87/4. The visitors will be hoping that their skipper R Vinay Kumar, who didn’t bowl due to a stiff neck, will be back in action on Thursday.

Earlier, Sharath and Nischal survived the dangerous 30 minutes of the first session. Both the batsmen kept missing the ball and it appeared like they would edge one behind the wickets anytime. Sharath, who resumed from 46, broke free with an uppish cut over point to reach his half-century. Nischal also eased his nerves when he caressed a short ball through covers for his first four of the day.

It was after the new ball was taken that boundaries started to flow. Sharath, facing left-arm spinner Aditya Sarvate (5/91), punished the two half-volleys with cracking drives to the fence. He made it three in a row with a four over the bowler’s head as their partnership touched 100 in 204 balls.

Batting on 90, Nischal had his heart in his mouth when he edged off-spinner Akshay Wakhare but received a reprieve when wicketkeeper Akshay Wadkar dropped an easy one. The 24-year-old, when on 98, brought up his second first-class century in style with a boundary off off-spinner Sanjay Ramaswamy. The youngster, who spent 405 minutes and consumed 293 balls for his feat, went down on his knees and raised his arms in delight.

Sharath too chose the aggressive option to reach his maiden ton as he struck Sarvate for two consecutive fours to become the ninth Karnataka batsman to score a century on debut. Vidarbha finally got the breakthrough two balls later, when Sarvate dismissed Sharath leg-before wicket. Nischal too fell soon after but skipper Vinay’s cameo of 39, which was laced with six boundaries, helped Karnataka gain a decent lead.

The left-arm spinner J Suchith in the 10th over, got Sanjay Ramaswamy to edge one to the wicketkeeper. Five overs later, Wasim Jaffer pushed one to short cover and called for a needless single only to see his captain Faiz Fazal fall short of the crease.

With Vinay not able to bowl, the onus was on Prasidh to do the damage from one end but the right-arm pacer wasn’t effective. The 22-year-old bowled at least one boundary-ball every over and was far from threatening.

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Sharath, Nischal provide the edge

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