Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Nair, Padikkal keep Karnataka afloat

Devdutt Padikkal (69 batting, 153b, 4x4) and Karun Nair (62 batting, 150b, 4x4) led Karnataka‘s fightback on day three of the Ranji match against Himachal Pradesh.

It was again left to skipper Karun to clear the fog that had settled over his team’s batting.   -  N SUDARSHAN

Devdutt Padikkal (69 batting, 153b, 4x4) and Karun Nair (62 batting, 150b, 4x4) led Karnataka‘s fightback on day three of the Ranji Trophy encounter against Himachal Pradesh at the SDNR Wadiyar Stadium here on Friday.

After the away side had secured a 114-run first-innings lead, Karnataka was precariously placed at 55/3 before Karun and Padikkal teamed up for an unbeaten 136-run association for the fourth wicket to leave the host 77 runs in the green.

It remains to be seen if Himachal can take advantage of the new ball that is due after 14 overs on the final morning and break open the contest. But for an hour on either side of lunch on the penultimate day, Rishi Dhawan nearly accomplished that with a fiery spell (9-0-24-3).

READ: Ranji Trophy: Mumbai, Kerala suffer defeats; MP eyes big win - As it happened

Mayank Agarwal (34, 58b, 5x4) started with a flurry of boundaries, with four of them hit crisply in the arc between mid-off and point. However, Dhawan broke through by rearranging D. Nischal’s stumps and then claimed the prized scalp of a well-set Mayank, forcing him to edge to Prashant Chopra at first slip.

In the very next over, the speedster got rid of R. Samarth for nought, hitting him low and trapping him leg before. It took a long, vociferous appeal to move umpire Yeshwant Barde but Samarth wasn’t one bit happy with the decision and showed his frustration with a loud cry as he entered the dressing room.

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It was again left to skipper Karun to clear the fog that had settled over his team’s batting and in the company of Padikkal he set about the job meticulously. The duo scored just eight fours between them, and but for a drop by Chopra at first-slip off Padikkal (on 39), didn’t allow Himachal as much as a sniff.

Karun drove assuredly and swept when he had to, while Padikkal played with a wristy flourish, employing the clip and the paddle sweep to good effect. For Karnataka to deny Himachal an outright win, one of the two has to go big.

Earlier in the morning, Dhawan (overnight 72) showed he meant business by slapping Abhimanyu Mithun and Prateek Jain to the mid-wicket fence in quick succession. But he could only add 21 runs and was the last man out, edging V. Koushik (24.4-8-59-4) to the wicket-keeper.

Mysore: Karnataka 166 & 191/3 in 67 overs (Devdutt Padikkal 69 batting, Karun Nair 62 batting) vs Himachal 280 in 107.4 overs (Priyanshu Khanduri 69, Nikhil Gangta 46, Rishi Dhawan 93, V. Koushik 4/59).

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