Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Dinesh Karthik hits hundred as match hangs in balance

Dinesh Karthik’s hundred and Ravichandran Ashwin's two-wicket haul kept Tamil Nadu in the hunt on day three of the Ranji Trophy fixture against Karnataka.

Dinesh Karthik of Tamil Nadu scored 113 runs from 235 balls against Karnataka in the first Innings of a Ranji Trophy match held at Natham near Dindigul.   -  G. Karthikeyan

What a dramatic turn of events! This was Ranji Trophy at its combative best. A day of fortune swings and twists, skill and guts. At stake was pride. 

Dinesh Karthik’s hundred of patience, calculated aggression, and heart, off-spinner K. Gowtham’s six-wicket haul of control, turn and bounce, and Tamil Nadu’s stirring fightback after conceding the lead... they were all there on an action-filled third day. 

Dismissing Tamil Nadu for 307 and gaining a 29-run lead at the NPR ground, Karnataka, stung by the pace-spin duo of K. Vignesh and R. Ashwin, was 89 for five at stumps on day three, an overall lead of 118.

The fourth-day bristles with possibilities. On a wearing pitch, all three results are possible.  

As it happened| Ranji Trophy 2019-20, Round 1, Day 3

Karnataka fumbles

The talented left-hander, Devdutt Padikkal, unbeaten on 29, curbed his attacking instincts. With fielders around the bat and Ashwin asking questions, the pressure on the batsmen was immense.  

Just when morale might have been down after losing the first innings battle, skipper Vijay Shankar set the ball rolling with a direct hit from mid-off to run-out Mayank Agarwal.

Then, an inspired K. Vignesh, his run-up, load-up and release blending into one, fired out D. Nischal - caught behind off an outswinger - and Karun Nair - the ball pitched middle and hit off - to leave Karnataka at 23 for three.

And R. Ashwin, smartly switched to the pavilion end by Vijay Shankar, spun the ball away from the left-handed Pawan Deshpande and turned one across Shreyas Gopal; both catches, at slip and leg-slip, were snaffled by the alert B. Aparajith.

Karthik's heroics

Earlier, Gowtham excelled. He is tall, has an easy high-arm action and extracts bounce. He retained focus and control over long spells.

For Tamil Nadu, Karthik (113, 235b, 16x4) was heroic. He carried innings’ weight even as wickets fell.

Karthik handled Gowtham with, both, sound defence and enterprise. Karthik played the ball late, waited for it to turn and got on top of the bounce for runs behind point. When the ball was lacking in length, he cut. When flighted, he danced down the track. 

The duel between Karthik and paceman Ronit More was engaging. There were occasions when More, lively and probing, beat Karthik outside the off-stump.

But when More strayed in line, Karthik was quick to whip him past mid-wicket. And when More over-pitched, he cover-drove.

His defence tight, Karthik’s footwork was dictated by the ball’s length. He upped the tempo when left with the tail and got to his hundred with a ferocious pull. 

The other Tamil Nadu batsmen did not display the same levels of application. Some of the stroke-making was atrocious when all they needed to do was support Karthik.

Tomorrow, though, is another day for the host.

At Dindigul: Karnataka 336 and 89/5 (Devdutt Padikkal 29 not out, Sharath Belur 25 not out; K Vignesh 2-11, R Ashwin 2-30) versus Tamil Nadu 307 (Dinesh Karthik 113, Abhinav Mukund 47; Krishnappa Gowtham 6-110).
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