Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Nischal, Sharath keep Karnataka in the hunt

Karnataka was 208 for five at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium, still 100 runs away from ensuring the vital innings lead against the defending champion.

Akshay Wakhare celebrats the wicket of K.V. Sidharth with his team-mates at the VCA stadium in Nagpur.   -  S. Sudarshan

The Vidarbha tail continued to wag in the morning as the spin duo of Akshay Wakhare and Aditya Sarwate came to the party in the afternoon.

But young Karnataka opener D. Nischal and debutant wicket-keeper B.R. Sharath took away the honours in the last session to keep the visiting team in the hunt of Vidarbha's first innings total of 307 halfway into the Ranji Trophy Elite Group A tie.

As it Happened

At the end of the second day's play, thanks to an unbroken association of 58 runs for the sixth wicket between a patient Nischal and flashy Sharath, dominated by the debutant who made the most of a reprieve by wicket-keeper Akshay Wadkar down the leg on 4, Karnataka was 208 for five at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium, still 100 runs away from ensuring the vital innings lead against the defending champion.

R. Vinay Kumar's men would have been further in disarray had Nischal not blocked one end and Shreyas Gopal and Sharath not kept the scoreboard flowing after Karnataka had been reduced to 87 for four halfway into the afternoon session.

Starting the innings 80 minutes into the day, R. Samarth succumbed to Vidarbha's ploy of starting the innings with spin as he edged the second ball bowled by left-arm spinner Sarvate to Wasim Jaffer in the slips.

Once Sarvate made way for Wakhare in the 11th over, the offie struck with his second ball with K.V. Siddharth not offering a shot and being adjudged leg-before.

Karun Nair, the Karnataka mainstay, came out to break the shackles, sweeping his first ball to square-leg fence before adding another four with a reverse sweep to finish the wicket-taking over.

However, even before he could think of impressing national selector Jatin Paranjape with a big knock, Nair missed a straight one by Sarvate in the last over before lunch to leave Karnataka reeling at 54 for three.

Almost an hour after lunch, a shaky Stuart Binny was trapped in front of the wickets by an accurate Wakhare.

Had it not been for the tail's heroics in the morning, though, Vidarbha wouldn't have enjoyed so much advantage.

Shreekant Wagh continued his charge off the pacers along with Wakhare. And even after Wagh was caught down the leg by Sharath off Vinay to end the 72-run stand for the ninth wicket, Wakhare and last-man Lalit Yadav added 35 runs, which could prove to be vital at the end of the game.

Brief scores: Vidarbha 307 (Ganesh Satish 57, S.B. Wagh 57, J. Suchith 4/33, A. Mithun 3/53); Karnataka 208/5 (D. Nischal 66, B.R. Sharath 46, A. Sarvate 2/44, Akshay Wakhare 2/45) trail by 99 runs.