Ranji Trophy: J & K dominates Karnataka on day three

At stumps, the contest appears to be fast slipping away from Karnataka; Karun Nair's men will have to produce a spirited fightback to turn things around.

J & K players celebrate the key wicket of Karnataka's Manish Pandey.   -  R. V. Moorthy

This was not Karnataka's day. When some substantial cricket was finally played in this Ranji Trophy quarterfinal, it was Jammu and Kashmir that struck the more telling blows, putting the touring side on the back-foot. Pace bowlers Aquib Nabi (3/45) and Mujtaba Yousuf (3/45) bowled with tact and discipline as J & K dismissed Karnataka for 206 in the first innings. K.V. Siddharth made a resolute 76 and Manish Pandey an eye-catching 37; both fell at critical junctures.

At stumps on Saturday, J & K was 88 for 2, with opener Shubham Khajuria looking assured on 39. The contest is fast slipping away from Karnataka; Karun Nair's men will have to produce a spirited fightback to turn things around.

READ | Ranji Trophy Quarterfinals, Day Three: Gujarat piles on the runs after Goa collapse

Day three at the Gandhi Memorial Science College began on a disastrous note for Karnataka (14 for 2 overnight). Karun Nair was caught behind off the second ball of the morning, pushing at Nabi. In came Pandey, and at once there was a buzz of excitement in the crowd. That anticipation proved justified. Pandey's first boundary was a gentle back-foot push off Nabi that sped through the covers. The bowler's next delivery was deftly steered to the fence through third man. A full ball from Mujtaba was effortlessly driven through the offside again. As the scoreboard ticked over, it was evident that Pandey was operating at a different level from those around him.

But J & K halted him in his tracks. Pandey had pulled two successive short balls from Mujtaba to the fence with complete disdain when the young left-armer went around the wicket and produced a fuller delivery that swung away. Pandey got a thick edge and Fazil Rashid dived to his right behind the stumps to complete a low catch. The wicket-keeper would finish the day with five dismissals to his name.

Siddharth and new man Sharath Srinivas then added 60 watchful runs to take their side through to lunch. Siddharth stayed firm, showing patience and soundness of technique, while Sharath was stubborn at the other end.

The next passage of play was going to be crucial. And it belonged to J & K. The strategy was simply to dry the runs up; it worked. Only nine runs were scored in the first nine overs post-lunch, before the pressure told. Mujtaba moved one ball away from Sharath (26, 91b) to draw a thin edge, breaking the fifth-wicket partnership at 69.

K. Gowtham was then trapped in front by Abid Mushtaq for 4. J. Suchith resisted briefly before he was caught and bowled by Parvez Rasool for 18. A crestfallen Siddharth fell in identical fashion. Karnataka lost its last four wickets for 15 runs as a vocal home crowd roared its players on.

The scores

Karnataka -- 1st innings: R. Samarth c Rashid b Nabi 5, Devdutt Padikkal c Pundir b Mujtaba 2, Karun Nair c Rashid b Nabi 4, K.V. Siddharth c and b Rasool 76, Manish Pandey c Rashid b Mujtaba 37, Sharath Srinivas c Rashid b Mujtaba 26, K. Gowtham lbw b Mushtaq 4, J. Suchith c and b Rasool 18, A. Mithun c Rashid b Nabi 5, Ronit More lbw b Rasool 10, Prasidh Krishna (not out) 0; Extras (b-13, lb-6): 19; Total (in 69.1 overs): 206.

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-14, 3-14, 4-75, 5-144, 6-153, 7-191, 8-192, 9-198.

J & K bowling: Nabi 17-4-45-3, Mujtaba 16-5-45-3, Nazir 13-2-38-0, Rasool 12.1-0-36-3, Mushtaq 11-3-23-1.

Jammu & Kashmir -- 1st innings: Shubham Khajuria (batting) 39, Suryansh Raina lbw b Gowtham 12, Henan Nazir c Nair b Suchith 12, Shubham Pundir (batting) 16; Extras (b-8, lb-1): 9; Total (for 2 wickets in 34 overs): 88.

Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-62.

Karnataka bowling: Mithun 5-3-9-0, Prasidh 4-0-12-0, Gowtham 12-1-30-1, More 3-1-9-0, Suchith 10-3-19-1.

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