Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Axar and Piyush Chawla help Gujarat draw against Karnataka

Karnataka had a chance at snatching a win until Mayank Agarwal was at the crease, but his dismissal — followed by disciplined bowling from Axar Patel and Piyush Chawla — helped Gujarat curtail the chase.

Manprit Juneja in action during his 98-run knock against Karnataka.   -  N.Sudarshan

Karnataka was forced to settle for three points as Gujarat held on for a creditable draw in the Ranji Trophy tie which drew to a close at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium in Surat on Monday.

The result leaves Karnataka eighth in the combined Elite Group A & B standings with 15 points from five games. With just one outright victory thus far, the match-up against Railways, starting this Saturday in Shivamogga, assumes great significance. Gujarat, on the other hand, is third with 18 points from six matches.

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On the day, Manprit Juneja (98, 212b, 9x4) built on the good work done by Rujul Bhatt (91, 255b, 8x4) as Gujarat, from an overnight 187 for three, finished with 345 runs, setting Karnataka a target of 173 from a minimum of 34 overs.

The visitor tried to make a good fist of it by pairing Devdutt Padikkal with opener Mayank Agarwal instead of the more conservative D. Nischal. Padikkal was bowled around his legs for nought by left-arm spinner Axar Patel, but until Mayank was at the crease ( (53, 57b, 7x4, 1x6) Karnataka was in with a chance.

When the 27-year-old — who later in the evening was added to the touring Indian Test party in Australia — smashed three fours and a six off Axar, the equation was down to 98 runs off 102 balls.

But once Axar and Piyush Chawla accounted for a few quick wickets, and suffocated Nichal and K.V. Siddharth by conceding just four runs from overs 23 to 26, the chase was abandoned and truce called with seven mandatory overs left.

The start of the day was however in complete contrast. The only source of entertainment was the prolonged exchange of words between Karnataka captain Vinay Kumar, Juneja and paceman Ronit More, which eventually required the umpires’ intervention.

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Juneja was staid and resolute in his approach even as Gujarat lost its penultimate day hero Bhatt. R. Samarth dropping Dhruv Raval at second slip early in his innings proved costly as Gujarat held out till lunch without further damage.

Juneja was bowled two runs short of a well-deserved century when he tried to work off-spinner K. Gowtham against the turn. But by then he had more or less ensured that his side wouldn’t lose.

 

Brief scores:

Gujarat 216 & 345 in 124.5 overs (Bhargav Merai 74, Rujul Bhatt 91, Manprit Juneja 98, K. Gowtham four for 80, Ronit More four for 61) vs. Karnataka 389 & 107 for four in 27 overs (Mayank Agarwal 53)

Points: Karnataka 3(15), Gujarat 1(18).