Shreyas hands Karnataka the advantage 

Shreyas Gopal's brilliant 61 not out has put Karnataka in a strong position against Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy semifinal.

Bengaluru: Shreyas Gopal pointed to the KSCA crest on his jersey and acknowledged the crowd after reaching his half-century on Saturday. There was no customary raise of the bat or even a smile on the Karnataka all-rounder’s face. Shreyas’ reaction was of a batsman focused on the bigger job.

On the middle day of the Ranji Trophy semifinal, focus was the catalyst to Shreyas’ (61 n.o.,, 134b, 1x4, 2x6) gem. Karnataka, after gaining a handy 39-run first innings lead, progressed with no tempo in their second essay. With Saurashtra picking wickets at regular intervals, the hosts desperately needed a semblance of calmness. At 176/8, Karnataka’s hopes of one good partnership rested on Shreyas and Abhimanyu Mithun.

Much to the delight of the Republic Day crowd at the Chinnaswamy stadium, the ninth-wicket pair stitched a priceless unbroken 61-run partnership to help Karnataka reach 237/8 and gain a strong lead of 276 at stumps.

Shreyas tackled variable bounce and good movement with good technique. Except for his two sixes – one each to spinners Dharmendrasinh Jadeja and Kamlesh Makwana – Shreyas adopted a risk-free approach. A sound front-foot player, Shreyas batted to his strength. Saurashtra were in a hurry to run through Karnataka’s line-up but Shreyas, with great stoicism, slowed things down and carefully tilted the contest in Karnataka’s favour. Familiar with the challenge of batting with tail-enders, Shreyas effortlessly farmed the strike.

Mithun (35 n.o., 87b, 4x4), who lent good support to Shreyas with his sensible approach, made good impact with the ball in the morning. Saurashtra, resuming from 227/7, were jolted by Mithun’s twin strikes. Mithun dismissed Dharmendrasinh caught behind and trapped Jaydev Unadkat plumb in front with the very next ball. A hat-trick eluded him but Mithun’s (3/46) partner-in-crime, Ronit More (6/60), wrapped up the Saurashtra innings for 236 by accounting for Arpit Vasavada (30).

Denied a lower-order revival, Saurashtra had no option but to attack. Skipper Unadkat (3/35) once again led the charge by castling the struggling R Samarth (5). Prerak Mankad’s (2/27) sharp inswingers first crashed through the gates of K V Siddharth (8) and then foxed Karun Nair (15), who walked back leg before wicket.

Saurashtra kept coming hard at their opponents and the visitors’ confidence was further lifted when Jadeja (3/77) delivered the ball of the day to remove Mayank Agarwal. The Karnataka opener, who was dropped on 11, had helped himself to 46 with some glorious cover drives to the fence. However, the right-hander was left shocked by the sharp turn off Jadeja’s second ball of the 31st over. After pitching on the middle, the ball moved away to knock the top of his off stump.  

Manish Pandey (26) was back in the hut in the second over after lunch and Unadkat’s superb third spell of 5-3-9-2 saw the fall of R Vinay Kumar and Sharath Srinivas. K Gowtham too perished playing another loose shot as a helpless Shreyas sought support.

To Karnataka’s relief, Shreyas and Mithun showed great match-awareness to forge the crucial partnership and the eight-time champions would be looking to stretch their lead to 300 runs on Sunday.

DH News Service 

SCORE BOARD

KARNATAKA (I INNINGS): 275 

SAURASHTRA (I INNINGS; O/n: 227/7): Hardik Desai c Pandey b More 16 (48m, 35b, 3x4), Snell Patel c Sharath Srinivas b Shreyas 85 (216m, 131b, 15x4), Vishvarajsinh Jadeja c Sharath Srinivas b More 5 (44m, 29b), Cheteshwar Pujara c & b Mithun 45 (160m, 99b, 3x4, 1x6), Sheldon Jackson c Sharath Srinivas b More 46 (91m, 62b, 4x4, 2x6), Arpit Vasavada c Nair b More 30 (102m, 47b, 4x4), Prerak Mankad c Sharath Srinivas b More 0 (7m, 2b), Kamlesh Makwana c Sharath Srinivas b More 1 (13m, 9b), Dharmendrasinh Jadeja c Sharath Srinivas b Mithun 3 (6m, 7b), Jaydev Unadkat lbw Mithun 0 (1m, 1b), Chetan Sakariya (not out) 1 (17m, 4b).  Extras (B-1, LB-3) 4. Total (all out, 71 overs) 236.  

Fall of wickets: 1-43 (Desai), 2-63 (V Jadeja), 3-137 (Snell), 4-178 (Pujara), 5-223 (Jackson), 6-223 (Mankad), 7-227 (Makwana), 8-230 (D Jadeja), 9-230 (Unadkat).

Bowling: R Vinay Kumar 15-4-32-0, Abhimanyu Mithun 19-6-46-3, Ronit More 18-1-60-6, KV Siddharth 3-0-9-0, K Gowtham 11-0-5-0, Shreyas Gopal 5-0-35-1.

KARNATAKA (II INNINGS): R Samarth b Unadkat 5 (14m, 11b, 1x4), Mayank Agarwal b D Jadeja 46 (139m, 77b, 6x4), KV Siddharth b Mankad 8 (34m, 14b, 1x4), Karun Nair lbw Mankad 15 (33m, 26b, 3x4), Manish Pandey lbw D Jadeja 26 (37m, 40b, 1x4, 1x6), Shreyas Gopal (batting) 61 (232m, 134b, 1x4, 2x6), Sharath Srinivas lbw Unadkat 7 (34m, 34b, 1x4), R Vinay Kumar b Unadkat 12 (29m, 19b, 2x4), K Gowtham b D Jadeja 11 (30m, 27b, 1x4), Abhimanyu Mithun (batting) 35 (118m, 87b, 4x4). Extras (B-5, LB-4, W-1, NB-1) 11. (for 8 wkts, 78 overs) 237.

Fall of wickets: 1-10 (Samarth), 2-26 (Siddharth), 3-52 (Nair), 4-89 (Pandey), 5-108 (Agarwal), 6-129 (Sharath), 7-155 (Vinay), 8-176 (Gowtham).

Bowling: Jaydev Unadkat 15-3-35-3, Chetan Sakariya 11-0-38-0 (nb-1), Prerak Mankad 10-0-27-2 (w-1), Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 27-3-77-3, Kamlesh Makwana 15-1-51-0. 

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Shreyas hands Karnataka the advantage 

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