On a day of largely slow-burn cricket, Karnataka moved to within seven wickets of victory in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Uttarakhand at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday.
After piling up a gigantic 606-run first-innings total, that fetched a lead of 490 runs, Karnataka reduced Uttarakhand to 106 for three at stumps on the third day.
Dikshanshu Negi (27 batting, 65b, 4x4) and Swapnil Singh (27 batting, 58b, 3x4, 1x6) put on a 50-run unbeaten partnership for the fourth wicket, ensuring that the visitors wouldn’t roll over. That they will have to bat out of their skins to just stretch the match into the fifth day tells the story.
Vidwath Kaverappa was the standout bowler, claiming two wickets during a spell of 10 uninterrupted overs (10-5-22-2) to take his tally for the season to 25.
Avneesh Sudha was the first to go, trapped in front while shuffling across. Skipper Jiwanjot Singh, who had until then been watchful, was bowled through the gate, with two of the three stumps flying across the turf.
First change M. Venkatesh struck in his third over, convincing the umpire that Kunal Chandela had edged one down the leg side. The batter, though, was unhappy, pointing to his thigh pad before walking off.
In the penultimate over, Nikin Jose dropped Swapnil at short-leg off leggie Shreyas Gopal. But it is unlikely to have much of a bearing.
Earlier in the morning, overnight centurion Shreyas and K. Gowtham (39, 70b, 4x4, 1x6) put on 85 runs (145b) for the seventh wicket. Shreyas remained unbeaten on 161 (288b, 16x4, 1x6), his highest First Class score, going past the previous best of 150 n.o. (2017-18).
But the slow trickle of runs didn’t seem to impress a few hundred schoolkids who were in attendance as they chanted “we want sixer.” Gowtham obliged, hooking one into the stands where they were seated.
For the fans who trooped in later, joy came in the form of tea and biscuits that were specially arranged.
A Karnataka victory and a place in the semifinals will warm everybody’s hearts uniformly.
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