Vinay’s batting grit saves the day for Karnataka

Vinay Kumar, the former Karnataka captain, may have had a forgettable season with the ball – 11 wickets in six matches – but his batting contribution at a crunch moment may yet prove to be the turning point against Rajasthan at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. With plenty of support from No. 11 Ronit More, he turned a 58-run deficit into a 39-run lead, with Karnataka finishing on 263. Rajasthan ended on 11 without loss, still trailing by 28 with three full days remaining.

Vinay finished 83 not out, with More’s contribution being 10 in a last-wicket stand of 97. Along the way, Karnataka were recipients of some luck. At least two lbw shouts – one each off More and Vinay prior to them taking the lead – was turned down.

More was struck flush on the boot by a full delivery from left-arm spinner Mahipal Lomror, but wasn’t given as the umpire indicated it would’ve missed leg. Replays however confirmed otherwise. Then, with Karnataka’s deficit narrowed down to just 12, Vinay was stuck on the pad looking to play around a length ball from Tanvir-ul-Haq, the left-arm medium pacer. The impact was within the line, with the angle in question. Once again, replays proved it was a narrow escape.

Earlier in the day, the cream of Karnataka’s batting were blown away by Tanvir and Rahul Chahar, the legspinner. The pair picked up seven wickets between them to leave Karnataka facing an uphill battle at 166 for 9. Manish Pandey, the captain, managed just 7 while Karun Nair was out for 4 to continue his barren patch – one half-century in his previous nine innings. There was also sign of enough wear and tear as K Gowtham got a grubber that scooted along the ground to have him bowled on 19.

In some consolation for Rajasthan after conceding the lead, Tanvir became the first bowler from the state to pick 50 wickets in a single season. Towards the end of proceedings, his limp off the field after sending down 20.3 overs may have added to their worries.

Centuries from Wasim Jaffer and Sanjay Ramaswamy underpinned Vidarbha’s dominance. The defending champions are well on their way to a handsome first-innings lead, having ended the second day in Nagpur on 260 for 1 against first-timers Uttarakhand. They trail by just 95 with nine wickets in hand.

Jaffer, unbeaten on 111, now has a century in three of his last four first-class outings. The one he missed – against Saurashtra – ended on 98. Jaffer, the highest run-getter in Ranji Trophy history, now has 57 first-class hundreds. Ramaswamy, meanwhile, couldn’t have timed his return to form much better. Having failed to cross half-century in eight innings this season, he battled through to finish unbeaten on 104. The second-wicket stand was worth 183.

Uttarakhand’s only success came in the 15th over when Deepak Dhapola, their highest wicket-taker this season, removed in-form Faiz Fazal for 29. Earlier in the day, Uttarakhand extended their score from overnight 293 for 6 to 355 with Saurabh Rawat completing his century and top-scoring with 108.

Wickets tumbled at a frenetic pace in Wayanad. Sixteen wickets fell on the second day – in addition to the 14 on Tuesday – but the result was far from a foregone conclusion. Gujarat, who were bundled out for 162 to concede a 23-run lead to Kerala, then fought back in the second innings.

Roosh Kalaria, the left-arm fast bowler, picked up a hat-trick as Kerala were bowled out for 171 in the second innings. This leaves Gujarat, the 2016-17 Ranji champions, with a difficult, yet not impossible target of 195 with three full days remaining.

Sijomon Joseph‘s 56 was the only 50-plus score for Kerala, who were bowled out in just 59 overs. Tottering at 96 for 5, they were shored up by Jalaj Saxena‘s unbeaten 44 to help give their bowlers a target to defend. Kerala were handicapped by the injury to Sanju Samson, that meant he could come in to bat only at No. 11. Having broken his finger in trying to avoid a short ball in the first-innings, their batting mainstay was out without scoring. Kalaria aside, Axar Patel, the left-arm spinner, picked up three wickets.

In a brilliant display of seam and swing bowling, the Uttar Pradesh fast bowlers – Shivam Mavi, Ankit Rajpoot and Yash Dayal – reduced Saurashtra to 170 for 7 before bad light stopped play in Lucknow. Cheteshwar Pujara, on whom all eyes were set, lasted only 28 balls before fending to a short of length delivery from Mavi to square leg.

Prior to that, Rajpoot had sent back Snell Patel and Vishvaraj Jadeja off successive balls to reduce Saurashtra to 35 for 2. Pujara edged the hat-trick ball towards fourth slip but the fielder couldn’t latch on to a low, difficult chance.

Harvik Desai, the opener, held one end, scoring 84 but that didn’t prove enough and the visitors are still trailing by 215. At stumps, Prerak Mankad was batting on 42, with Dharmendrasinh Jadeja keeping him company on 9.

At the start of the day, Mavi and Saurabh Kumar frustrated the Saurashtra’s bowlers for almost an hour. Resuming their association from the last evening, the duo had added 76 for the eighth wicket before Jaydev Unadkat dismissed Mavi for 42.

Saurabh brought up his fifty in the company of No. 11 Dayal, with successive fours off Unadkat before skying the next ball to fine leg. Unadkat took all three UP wickets to fall on day two and finished with figures of 5 for 86.

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