Ranji Trophy QF: Karnataka tightens noose around Mumbai

If Mumbai had to claw its way back in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Karnataka, the largely inexperienced bowling line-up needed to bowl out of its skin and the fielders had to convert half-chances. Karnataka, on the other hand, required to dig deep and bat as long as possible.

Karnataka's Shreyas Gopal plays a shot at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur on Friday.   -  Prashant Nakwe

If Mumbai had to claw its way back in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Karnataka, the largely inexperienced bowling line-up needed to bowl out of its skin and the fielders had to convert half-chances. Karnataka, on the other hand, required to dig deep and bat as long as possible.

After putting in a remarkable performance in the first session of the second morning at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium, Mumbai did find Karnataka in a spot of bother only to throw away all the good work thanks to a disastrous dropped catch. The life, offered to wicket-keeper C.M. Gautam by an otherwise reliable Suryakumar Yadav at first slip in the third over after the break, changed the course of the game.

At the end of the second day, Karnataka had tightened its grip on the game, sitting pretty at 395 for six, with a first-innings advantage of 222 runs.

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The scoreboard could well have read entirely different had Yadav pouched a regulation edge by Gautam off Akash Parkar. The Mumbai pace quartet had been disciplined for the whole of morning session, resulting in débutante duo of Shivam Malhotra and Shivam Dube snaring three Karnataka wickets in the first session. Overnight opener Mayank Agarwal had nicked to Aditya Tare 40 minutes into the day's play before Dube got into act from the pavilion end.

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The burly bowler set up Karun Nair nicely, following up an outswinger with an in-cutter that rapped into Nair's pads before ending left-handed Pavan Deshpande's scratchy innings with an edge to Akhil Herwadkar at first slip shortly after Karnataka had taken the lead.

Had Yadav not given Gautam a life, Karnartaka would have been reduced to 198 for five. Considering the fact that Kaunain Abbas departed soon afterwards, the long Karnataka tail may have been put under pressure with a thin advantage. Instead, Gautam made Mumbai pay dearly. The wicket-keeper adopted an aggressive approach and turned his shaky form with the bat into a sterling knock.

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Shreyas Gopal played a mature innings at the other end, rotating strike at will and letting Gautam continue to open his arms up. That Gautam took on Dube, the pick of the bowlers, and cleared the long-off rope easily showed the ominous touch he was in. He missed out on a century with Dube trapping him in front of the wickets in the 12th over of the second new ball to complete a deserving five-for. Mumbai inexplicably didn't offer the new ball to Dube, thus helping the Karnataka duo to pile on a 103-run association before Gautam's dismissal.

Captain R. Vinay Kumar then joined Shreyas in the middle and the duo ensured that Mumbai was well and truly batted out of the game with an unbroken 74-run association when the play was called off.