Ranji Trophy: Padikkal, Shreyas put Karnataka on top

Devdutt Padikkal and Shreyas Gopal helped Karnataka to 132-run lead over Gujarat at the end of second day's play.

Devdutt Padikkal plays a shot during his knock of 74 against Gujarat.   -  N. Sudarshan

Karnataka, on day two of its Ranji Trophy clash against Gujarat, put itself in a position from where it will be incredibly tough for a slip up. As the shadows lengthened at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium here on Saturday, the visitors, from an overnight 45 for two, finished on 348 for seven and a lead of 132 runs.

The architects of the substantial first-innings lead were the teenaged Devdutt Padikkal (74, 130b, 10x4), who was only playing his third first-class game, the seasoned Shreyas Gopal (93, 115b, 15x4) and debutant wicketkeeper Sharath Srinivas (47 batting, 130b, 4x4).

Padikkal played a huge hand in Karnataka's reply to Gujarat’s first-innings total, later Shreyas and Sharath batted the host out of the game with their 117-run sixth wicket stand.

Read: Solanki, Waghmode put Baroda in command over Mumbai

The pitch demanded a bit of courage, some batting skill and ambition, as the odd ball kept low and a few turned square. Padikkal and Shreyas displayed these qualities in ample measure.

The rub of the green went Karnataka’s way too -- R. Samarth was caught plumb in front by Mehul Patel early in the morning, but it turned out to be a no-ball; Shreyas survived an easy stumping when he stepped out too soon to Piyush Chawla while still on 27; Sharath was caught at square leg late in the day, again off a no-ball.

But it was probably the just reward for their approach. Padikkal found the right mix of caution and aggression. He judged the line well, defended securely, and put away the bad balls with a wristy flourish. Much of his runs came square of the wicket, with his back-foot drives between the point and cover fielders catching the eye.

However, he perished to Axar Patel in what was a classic left-arm spinner’s dismissal. Padikkal played the initial angle, delivered from slightly wide, but the ball straightened and shook the off stump. 

At 171 for five, Karnataka was still 45 runs adrift, but Shreyas was in no mood to backpedal. The 25-year-old legspinner, who has thus made a perfect fit into the all-rounder's role, scored fluently. He danced down the track at the slightest opportunity and drove beautifully, mostly through the cover region.

At the other end, Sharath played well within himself, just what the situation asked of him. Shreyas fell seven runs short of his fifth first-class century when his attempt to pull seamer Arzan Nagwaswalla took a top-edge to the wicketkeeper.

Brief scores: Gujarat 216 vs Karnataka 348 for seven in 105 overs (Devdutt Padikkal 74, Shreyas Gopal 93, Srinivas Sharath 47 batting).

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