Ranji Trophy: Karnataka sneaks past fighting Hyderabad

A sluggish Karnataka sneaked past a fighting Hyderabad by 59 runs in its Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ encounter in Shivamogga on Friday.

Hyderabad's B. Sandeep tries to play a shot during a Ranji Trophy match against Karnataka in Shivamogga on Friday.   -  Sampath Kumar G. P.

A sluggish Karnataka sneaked past a fighting Hyderabad by 59 runs in its Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ encounter here on Friday.

B. Sandeep (80, 205b, 10x4) and an injured Ashish Reddy (57 n.o., 98b, 5x4, 3x6) nearly took Hyderabad over the hump, but faltered in the final stretch. The visitor was helped along by a lethargic show by Karnataka, which at times, bordered on apathetic.

Hyderabad started the day on 92 for two, 288 runs shy of the stiff 380-run target. Overnight batsman Tanmay Agarwal fell early to a contentious leg-before decision which went in favour of spinner K. Gowtham. Ambati Rayudu showed patience, until he poked a Stuart Binny delivery to K.L. Rahul at slip.

Sandeep and Ashish then pulled Hyderabad back on track. Ashish, however, retired hurt on 19 due to frequent spasms. He returned to join Sandeep with his side on 231 for seven. The duo displayed tremendous grit and application at the crease.

The home side, on the other hand, meandered along. The fielders showed little interest in chasing down the ball, allowing the batsmen to convert ones and twos, and twos to fours. Ashish, clearly battling pain and exhaustion, was not put under any pressure.

There was little encouragement on offer for the bowlers - the routine on-field chatter nearly non-existent. This lack of energy rubbed off on the small crowd at the KSCA Stadium (Navule) as well.

Sandeep and Ashish were only too happy to capitalise, taking Hyderabad to 279 for seven at Tea. At this stage, the underdogs needed 101 runs in 26 overs to pull off a famous upset win.

Early into the final session, Sandeep received a reprieve when Rahul grassed a chance at slip. Just when it looked like all hope was lost for Karnataka, Vinay Kumar provided a crucial breakthrough. The skipper cleaned up Sandeep, who attempted an expansive drive. An utterly downcast Sandeep walked back with his side 76 runs adrift of the target. Vinay had more than made up for putting down two chances earlier in the day.

Leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal then took the final two wickets, leaving Ashish stranded. Hyderabad was bowled out with just 12.2 overs remaining for close of play.

“Yes, the boys were a little down on energy, but that was because it was very hot and humid," a relieved Vinay stated, "I was worried when Ashish and Sandeep got going, but luckily, I was able to dismiss Sandeep. Breaking big partnerships gives me great satisfaction.”

Karnataka, which has recorded victories in both its matches played so far, next faces Maharashtra at Pune. The match commences on Wednesday.

Brief scores: Karnataka 1st innings: 183. Hyderabad 1st innings: 136. Karnataka 2nd innings: 332. Hyderabad 2nd innings 320 (B Sandeep 80, Ashish Reddy 57; Shreyas Gopal 4-91, K Gowtham 3-92)

Karnataka won by 59 runs.

Man of the match: Karun Nair