Robin Uthappa and Karun Nair failed to convert overnight centuries into a real big innings. But all-rounder Stuart Binny continued the fireworks as Karnataka set themselves up for an outright win against Assam in a Ranji Trophy Group B game.
Riding on Binny’s entertaining 156 and his quickfire 131-run partnership with the reliable C.M. Gautam, Karnataka stretched its first innings lead to 245 at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s Bandra-Kurla Complex facility.
Leggie Shreyas Gopal then got through the defence of opener Rishav Das to reduce Assam to XX for one at the end of the penultimate day’s play.
On a pitch that has started bringing the spinners into the game, it would be a Herculean effort for Assam to deprive the favoured opponents of earning six points from the game.
The day belonged to Binny, who carried his impressive forms with the ball when it came to batting. While bowling a marathon spell in Assam’s first innings, especially with Abhimanyu Mithun having hurt his groin in the third over the match, Binny didn’t enjoy the slice of luck, with two regulation catches dropped off his bowling.
But when it came to batting, he didn’t leave anything to chance, timing the ball as sweetly and as hard as he is renowned for. While Uthappa and Nair struggled to get going in the morning – with the first ten overs not producing a boundary with Nair breaking the shackles smashing three consecutive fours off Abu Nechim Ahmed – Binny didn’t have any such problem.
Soon after Uthappa holed out to Tarjinder Singh at long-off boundary to give left-arm spinner a wicket, Binny took guard and got into his groove. It took him only eight balls to start his boundary-scoring spree, with a cover drive off Mohammad. Then on, till he eventually played on the ball in halfway into the evening session with a declaration looming large, it was a flawless innings.
Even after Karun Nair perished with a top-edged pull off Krishna Das that landed in substitute Pallav Das’ stretching palms running in from deep square leg, Binny continued to time the ball sweetly. As the boundaries started thick and fast, the moment Karnataka overhauled Assam’s first innings total of 325, Assam went on the defensive and spread the field.
That meant Binny and Gautam, who joined in after Kaunain Abbas threw an opportunity by holing out offie Sarupam Purkayastha straight to Rishav Das at short midwicket, had to be more careful in choosing to hit through the gaps.
While Gautam steered and drove with aplomb, Binny was impressive with his flicks and aerial shots straight down the ground. Binny’s audacity was underlined in the manner in which he reached his hundred – boundaries with a cover drive followed by a reverse sweep off Assam captain Gokul Sharma. The next ball went sailing over the cow corner.
Sunday is going to be far from being a tame last day’s play.
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