Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Naushad Shaikh keep Maharashtra afloat

A 106-run seventh wicket partnership between Ruturaj Gaikwad and Naushad Shaikh helped their team set Karnataka a target of 184. Karnataka needs 130 more runs to win on the final day, with 10 wickets in hand.

In full flow: Ruturaj Gaikwad plays a cut shot en route to his 89 on Friday. Photo: M. A. Sriram

Gritty knocks from Ruturaj Gaikwad (89, 161b, 7x4, 1x6) and Naushad Shaikh (73, 121b, 5x4, 1x6) kept Maharashtra in the hunt against Karnataka on the penultimate day of their Ranji Trophy match here on Friday.

The 106-run seventh-wicket stand between Gaikwad and Shaikh helped Maharashtra set a competitive target of 184. Karnataka ended the day with the upper hand, as openers Devdutt Padikkal (33 batting) and D. Nischal (21 batting) did well to take the side to 54 for no loss. The host requires a further 130 runs to seal the victory — a fairly straightforward task.

Tight spot

The morning session belonged to Satyajeet Bachhav, who hung around for over two hours for his 99-ball 28. Bachhav, who came to the crease on Thursday as the nightwatchman, drove anything full and defended the rest. Spinners Shreyas Gopal and Pavan Deshpande came into the attack and scalped three quick wickets — Bachhav, Rohit Motwani (2) and skipper Rahul Tripathi (8) — to reduce Maharashtra to 113 for six. The 73-run innings lead may have been erased, but Maharashtra was still in a tight spot.

Vinay Kumar added another feather to his cap, taking 450 career wickets. File Photo: G. P. Sampath Kumar

 

Shaikh joined Gaikwad at the crease, and they did tremendously well to pull Maharashtra on track. Both batsmen displayed a calm temperament, happy to play for time. As the overs wore on, Karnataka captain Vinay Kumar predictably spread the field. This defensive approach, with no more than four fielders inside the circle, gave the batsmen plenty of easy singles and doubles.

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It did not help that fast bowler A. Mithun was absent, as he was yet to fully recover from an ankle injury sustained on the second day.

Shaikh also benefitted from an inexplicable drop by Kaunain Abbas, who fluffed the gentlest of chances at second slip.

Milestone for Vinay Kumar

It took a terrific effort from Vinay to break the partnership. A sharp inswinger whizzed through Gaikwad’s bat and pad, and took out off-stump. Gaikwad, whose determined knock lasted nearly five hours, received a standing ovation from his teammates when he returned to the hut. Warhorse Vinay, meanwhile, took his tally of first-class wickets to 450.

Karnataka openers Padikkal and Nischal comfortably negotiated 20 overs until close of play. Maharashtra would have hoped to pile on the pressure with a few wickets, but the two youngsters would have none of it. Debutant Padikkal exuded all the class associated with top-order southpaws, while Nischal’s crunching back-foot punches calmed all nerves in the dressing room.

Brief Scores

Karnataka 186 and 54 for 0 needs 130 more runs to beat Maharashtra 113 and 256 (Ruturaj Gaikwad 89, Naushad Shaikh 73, Shreyas Gopal 4 for 64, Vinay Kumar 3 for 41).