Ranji Trophy: C.M. Gautam ensures a point for Karnataka

Karnataka put up a respectable 393 runs on the board in its second innings and salvage a draw in a game it trailed for most part of the four days. C.M. Gautam (95) missed out on a well-deserved century.

C.M. Gautam's innings of 95 runs came off 240-balls where he spent 313 minutes at the crease.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

C.M. Gautam (95) missed out on a well-deserved century but his 240-ball, 313 minute long vigil ensured one point for Karnataka after the seventh round game against Odisha ended in an expected draw at the Services Sports Complex here on Thursday.

Gautam was dismissed for 95 but his two partnerships – with captain Vinay Kumar on the third day and then Shreyas Gopal – helped Karnataka put up a respectable 393 runs on the board in its second innings and salvage a draw in a game it trailed for most part of the four days.

Odisha, chasing 231 for its first win of the season in just under two sessions, was 63 without loss when the teams decided to call off play after the mandatory overs have been bowled for the day.

“This match was crucial for us because it has given everyone a chance to introspect, both individually and as a team, on our shortcomings and concerns. It's good it came at this point instead of the knockouts and it has also helped us avoid any complacency that might have sneaked in after a good season so far,” Karnataka coach J. Arun Kumar admitted.

Gautam and Gopal continued from where they left off overnight, scoring at a brisk pace. The duo added 56 more runs before Gautam, nicked the faintest of edges off a rising delivery from Suryakant Pradhan with the team total on 300.

The disappointment was visible but his 95-run knock had laid the platform for a Karnataka fightback and proved there were runs to be made if only the batsmen were patient enough to hang on.

Joined by Gowtham K, Gopal got his own 50 with a single and, led by Gowtham's aggressive hitting, the two added 86 runs in just 18 overs. Left-arm spinner Dhiraj Singh cleaned up both batsmen to add two more wickets and complete his fifer as Karnataka lost three wickets in as many overs.

“We knew we had to take risks in the second innings instead of going into a shell. Though we lost wickets, we made sure the run flow didn't stop. We know teams like Odisha have bowlers who consistently stick to their line and it is imperative that we take risks else if we keep leaving the good balls, we would hardly score any runs. It worked for us” Arun Kumar added.

Odisha, however, appeared disinterested in chasing the target, Sandeep Pattanaik (27) and Ranjit Singh (35) pulling down the shutters and content playing out the overs even as Karnataka bowlers tried to attack and force a result, including having seven fielders around the batsmen for Sreenath Arvind at one point, but Odisha stayed defensive for three points.

“There was no point trying to go for shots or runs on a pitch where the ball was not even coming on to the bat. We are satisfied with three points though we could have done better with the ball late yesterday and today morning. Some early wickets could have changed the situation completely,” Odisha coach Debashish Mohanty said.

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