Ranji trophy: Aditya Shrivastava denies Karnataka first-innings lead

Karnataka must now get the better of Baroda in its final league match, starting at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium next week, to guarantee itself a quarterfinal berth.

Aditya Shrivastava fell eight short of a double hundred.   -  G P SAMPATH KUMAR

Karnataka left the KSCA Navule Stadium with a solitary point and a dented spirit. Madhya Pradesh snatched the first-innings lead in thrilling circumstances on the fourth and final day of this Ranji Trophy contest, Aditya Shrivastava denying the home side with a resolute 192.

The visitor was 45 runs in arrears when the ninth wicket fell. But Shrivastava and Kuldeep Sen, the No.11, stitched a 50-run partnership (52 balls) during half an hour of intense drama.

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The game ended in a draw at the stroke of tea, with Karnataka 62 for one in the second innings when the teams shook hands. Karun Nair's men still have their fate in their own hands, though, and three points against Baroda in their final league match, starting at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium next week, will guarantee a quarterfinal berth.

Friday had begun with Madhya Pradesh 115 runs behind Karnataka's 426, six wickets in hand. Shrivastava and Venkatesh Iyer, who had so obstinately resisted the bowling side on day three, added 12 runs in the morning to extend their stand to 200. Karnataka struck at that point, Ronit More getting Venkatesh to edge to second slip. Himanshu Mantri hung around for thirty minutes before he was bowled by More. Madhya Pradesh was six down and 74 behind at that stage.

On came Abhimanyu Mithun. The fast bowler struck twice in two balls, bowling Kartikeya Singh and trapping Ravi Yadav leg-before. When Gourav Yadav was run out two overs later, responding late to a call for a quick single, Madhya Pradesh was nine down for 381. Karnataka was almost there. Or so it seemed for a fleeting second.

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There was trouble in the very next over, the 149th of the innings, sent down by K. Gowtham. Kuldeep pulled the first ball he faced through square leg for four, clobbered the second miles over long-on, and swiped the third beyond cow-corner. Not bad for a No.11 with a career average of 4.9. At once the deficit had narrowed to 28.

Shreyas Gopal then bled 13 in one over, with Shrivastava and Kuldeep bludgeoning a pair of sixes. Giving the leg-spinner the ball was perhaps not the best idea at that point. Shrivastava eventually hauled his side level, muscling Mithun to the boundary past mid-off. There were more tense moments as 12 dot balls followed before Madhya Pradesh finally claimed the lead. Kuldeep walked back unbeaten on 23 (19b, 1x4, 3x6) while Shrivastava fell eight short of a double hundred. Nobody would have grudged him that milestone

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