Ranji Trophy: Saurabh, Nitin dig in as Karnataka eyes victory

Chasing a mammoth 362 to win, Saurabh Wakaskar and Nitin Bhille anchored Railways to 44 for one at stumps on day three.

D. Nischal made 101, his second century of the season, while Devdutt Padikkal (75) and K.V. Siddharth (84 n.o.) also contributed heavily, as Karnataka declared on 290 for two.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Karnataka will have to work hard on the final day if it is to leave the KSCA Navule Stadium with six points. Having set Railways a mammoth target of 362, the home side had 16 overs to bowl on Monday evening.

But if it had anticipated a collapse, there was none. Prashant Gupta's dismissal in the second over was Karnataka's only success as Saurabh Wakaskar and Nitin Bhille dug in. At stumps, Railways was 44 for one, on a day that was dominated by the batsmen.

As it happened| Ranji Trophy Round 7, Day 3

Batsmen make merry

D. Nischal made 101, his second century of the season, while Devdutt Padikkal (75) and K.V. Siddharth (84 n.o.) also contributed heavily, as Karnataka declared on 290 for two. It was all one-way traffic till that point but Railways showed it was capable of resistance.

In the morning, Karnataka's opening pair carried on untroubled. Nischal and Padikkal had been acutely cautious the evening before and they continued in the same manner for three-quarters of an hour. Steadily, inevitably, they stepped on the pedal.

Padikkal, a compact, visually pleasing left-hander, played a fine straight drive off Manish Rao before clipping Thakur off his pads. There was an effortless six too, Amit Mishra dispatched over mid-wicket. A lofted straight drive took Padikkal to his third half-century this season.

At the other end, Nischal was steady in his accumulation. The 24-year-old may not boast of a wide range of shots but he is composed and remarkably patient. It is an approach that has served him well. The lead had swelled beyond 200 when Karnataka went into lunch.

Padikkal fell half an hour after resumption, stretching forward to drive an Avinash Yadav delivery but succeeding only in handing the bowler a return catch. It was the 19-year-old's third score in the seventies this Ranji Trophy season, his dismissal coming when he had looked set to reach a maiden first-class hundred. He trudged slowly off the pitch.

Lusty blows

Siddharth was promoted up the order and, after taking a while getting his eye in, he set about whacking the bowling around. Harsh Tyagi was struck for three sixes — one over long-off, the other long-on, and the third slog-swept beyond mid-wicket. He got to his fifty off 57 balls as the lead soared.

Nischal, meanwhile, completed his third Ranji Trophy hundred without fuss, moments from the tea break. He fell the first ball after the interval, caught in the covers. Karnataka declared eight overs into the session, Siddharth 16 away from a hundred.

Individual milestones, though, will be Manish Pandey's last concern as his men chase a much-needed win.

At Shivamogga: Karnataka 214 & 290 for two decl. in 84 overs (Devdutt Padikkal 75, D. Nischal 101, K.V. Sidharth 84 not out) v Railways 143 & 44 for one in 16 overs.

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