Karnataka in strong position against Uttar Pradesh

Bangalore, Jan 10: Karnataka, despite a poor effort in their second innings, still appeared well placed to beat Uttar Pradesh who were still 278 adrift of the target with nine wickets in hand at stumps on the third day of their Ranji Trophy quarter-final game here Friday.

After Uttar Pradesh declared their first innings at the overnight score of 221 for nine, and thus conceding a lead of 128 runs, Karnataka were bundled out for 204 with left-arm spinner Ali Murtaza claiming six for 64.

The hosts, tottering at 15 for three, were rescued by opener Lokesh Rahul (92 not out, 188b, 13×4) as they eventually set a target of 333 with over two days of play still left in the game.

Uttar Pradesh began their chase on a solid note with openers Tanmay Srivastava and Mukul Dagar putting on 53 runs. However, Srivastava fell to leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal with about 10 minutes of play left, edging a catch to Robin Uthappa in the slips as the visitors ended the day on 55 for one.

While Uttar Pradesh batsmen need to show better application on the morrow than they did in the first innings, Karnataka are a bowler short as Sharath, who injured his shoulder Thursday while fielding, is unlikely to take further part in the match.

The Karnataka second innings was a stop-go affair as their attempt to shield top-order batsmen from Uttar Pradesh seamers in helpful morning conditions misfired.

First innings centurion and opener Robin Uthappa (0) fell leg-before to Ankit Rajpoot in the very first over. Not long after, Karnataka lost two more wickets, those of skipper Vinay Kumar (9) who had promoted himself to replace an injured Ravikumar Samarth, and so-called pinch-hitter Abrar Kazi (0), both falling to Murtaza who was brought on earlier than expected.

At 15 for three, Karnataka were in doldrums with Uttar Pradesh looking to restrict their opponents. Manish Pandey (6) was the next to go, misting a pull shot off seamer Amit Mishra to be caught at mid-off by Murtaza, and Karun Nair (25), also a first innings centurion, did not last long, flicking Rajpoot to midwicket for Mukul Dagar to accept the catch as Karnataka slid to 73 for five.

At the other end, opener Rahul batted resolutely and was involved in two fruitful partnerships. He and CM Gautam (36) added 63 runs for the sixth wicket and then along with young Shreyas Gopal (9) 24 for the seventh to help Karnataka build a healthy lead.

Uttar Pradesh continued to attack and with Murtaza picking up wickets at regular intervals, and the two injured home players Samarth and Sharath not able to stay long enough, Karnataka’s innings ended on 204 leaving the visitors a target of 333 to get with plenty of time still left in the five-day game.

Brief scores: Karnataka 349 and 204 (lokesh Rahul 92, Chidambaram Gautam 36; Murtaza Ali 6/64) vs Uttar Pradesh 221/9 dec and 53/1

IANS