Ranji Trophy: Karnataka holds all the aces

Hyderabad, finishing the day at 92 for two, requires a further 288 runs, on a slow and low pitch, to pull off an upset win in the Ranji Trophy match here.

The first two sessions belonged to Karnataka batsman Karun Nair, who struck his 11th first-class century.   -  Sampath Kumar G P

Karnataka holds the edge over Hyderabad heading into the final day of their Ranji Trophy encounter, at KSCA Stadium (Navule) here. Set a target of 380, Hyderabad finished the penultimate day at 92 for two. Tanmay Agarwal (batting 43, 104b) and Ambati Rayudu (batting 18, 44b) – both guilty of succumbing to irresponsible shots in the first essay – showed determination this time around. The visitor requires a further 288 runs, on a slow and low pitch, to pull off an upset win.

The first two sessions belonged to Karnataka batsman Karun Nair, who struck his 11th first-class century. From his overnight score of 37, Karun made quick progress to reach his fifty. His partner, Stuart Binny, was also keen to get a move on. Stuart set the tone by stepping down the track and lofting left-arm spinner, Mehdi Hasan, for a big six over extra-cover. It was clear that the home side was not content with resting easy on its 47-run first-innings lead.

Stuart went on to record his second half-century of the match. His cavalier approach, however, brought his downfall. A wild hit fell to substitute fielder Rohit Rayadu at long-off, giving Hasan his fifth scalp. Stuart’s dismissal ended a vital 160-run partnership for the fifth wicket. The stand took Karnataka ahead by 264 runs, leaving Hyderabad to play catch up.

Karun, meanwhile, was not nearly done. His clean technique ensured that he was not troubled by the uneven bounce or turn on offer. Karun was the final wicket to fall, losing his stump to leg-spinner Akash Bhandari. “There are some footmarks on the pitch, which plays on the batsman’s mind. If we can take a few early wickets tomorrow, we have a good chance. As for my knock, I wanted to occupy the crease for as long as possible," Karun said.

Hyderabad’s star pacer Mohammed Siraj bowled just the single over for the day, despite staying on the field through the Karnataka innings. It was learnt that Siraj, who is part of the India T20 squad to take on New Zealand, suffered from a mild stomach cramp. The team management decided that it would be best if he did not exert himself on this spinner’s pitch.