This was a wretched day in the field for Karnataka. Three catches were put down and a well-set batsman bowled off a no-ball, with the collective result that Madhya Pradesh escaped from a position of some trouble to one of comfort in this Ranji Trophy Elite Group B tie.
Aditya Shrivastava and Venkatesh Iyer made the most of the home side's generosity, adding 188 stubborn runs for the fifth wicket over four and a half hours, their stand unbroken. Karnataka, which may have nursed ambitions of a win at the start of play on Thursday, must now fight to claim a first-innings lead. At stumps on day three at the KSCA Navule Stadium, Madhya Pradesh was 311 for four, only 115 runs behind.
In the morning, though, Karnataka had looked poised to run through the opposition. After a barren first hour, Shreyas Gopal pinned Yash Dubey LBW on the crease for 45. Minutes later, K. Gowtham struck, in his first over of the day. Shubham Sharma's defensive prod took the outside edge, and Karun Nair grabbed a sharp, one-handed reflex catch at first slip.
In Gowtham's next over, Shrivastava nicked off, only for wicket-keeper Sharath Srinivas to spill the chance. The batsman was on eight then, and Madhya Pradesh 124/4, still 302 runs in arrears. Karnataka would not take a wicket for the rest of the day.
Iyer went on the attack after lunch, reverse-sweeping Shreyas for four and launching him over long-on for six. The tall left-hander soon raised his fourth fifty of the season, off 97 balls. At the other end, Shrivastava was reprieved on 66, Nair the guilty party at first slip. Gowtham, the bowler, sank to his knees in despair.
Karnataka attacked with a renewed energy after tea, and three overs into the final session it seemed as if there was a breakthrough at last. Iyer, batting on 62, chopped Abhimanyu Mithun onto his stumps, but the bowler had overstepped. Minutes later, Iyer was let off again when Gowtham shelled a simple offering in the slips.
Shrivastava completed his fifth first-class ton with successive boundaries off Gowtham, and then gave full vent to his joy. He walked back unbeaten on 109, with Iyer on 80. For once, all the applause came from the visitors’ dressing room.
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