Ranji Trophy: Odisha in commanding position on second day

Odisha took a first-innings lead for the first time this season, overhauling Group B leader Karnataka's 179 on the second day of the Round VII Ranji Trophy match here on Tuesday. Saurabh Rawat scored his career best 85, for Karnataka, Shreyas Gopal was the most successful bowler picking up his five-wicket haul.

Saurabh Rawat and Samataray put together 106 runs for the seventh wicket, building on foundations laid first by captain Govinda Poddar.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Saurabh Rawat led the charge with a career-best 85 as Odisha took a first-innings lead for the first time this season, overhauling Group B leader Karnataka's 179 on the second day of the Round VII Ranji Trophy match here on Tuesday.

Along with Biplab Samantaray (58), the 21-year old Rawat, playing in his debut season, cut, pulled and drove with authority. Odisha was 318 for nine at stumps, a lead of 139 runs against the eight-time champions, with Basant Mohanty on 16 and Alok Mangaraj on 10. Leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal was the most successful of Karnataka bowlers, picking up his five-wicket haul this season and providing the crucial breakthroughs.

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Partnerships were the key to a good score at the Services Sports Complex and also the difference between the two sides. Where Karanataka faltered, Odisha managed to stitch enough to thwart one of the best bowling attacks on the domestic circuit. Rawat and Samataray put together 106 runs for the seventh wicket, building on foundations laid first by captain Govinda Poddar and then by Samantaray and Abhishek Yadav.

Two late wickets on the opening day had raised Karnataka's hopes but Poddar and overnight bastman Dhiraj Singh successfully saw off the opening hour from Karnataka seamers. The introduction of spin worked, Gopal taking two wickets in his first two overs to remove both overnight batsmen and Krishnappa Gowtham scalping one to peg back Odisha.

Poddar was the first to go, stumped while going for a big hit. Dhiraj went next, edging to Samarth R at second slip, and Shubhranshu Senapati followed three balls later, cleaned up by Gowtham. Three wickets in three overs for three runs saw Karnataka claw back as Odisha went from 76 for two to 79 for five.

But Samantaray and Yadav got down to grinding out the runs, taking the team to 125 for five at lunch before Yadav fell, poking at an away-moving delivery from Vinay Kumar to edge behind. Rawat came out with the team still 40 runs adrift and kept rotating the strike before cutting loose.

A four pulled to the backward square leg brought up the 180 for the team in the 76th over even as Samantaray, as the senior partner, played anchor while advancing towards his own half century, which he got with a single to point.

R.Vinay Kumar bore the maximum brunt of Rawat's attack. An upper cut to third man brought up Rawat's 50 in the 92nd over, and was followed by another, this time along the ground, and then a huge six, the first of the innings, pulled to backward square, saw Odisha race ahead before Gopal came back to break the partnership.

Samantaray was caught by Sreenath Arvind running backwards from extra cover and Rawat nicked to wicketkeeper Gautam. In between, Suryakant Pradhan's 15-ball 23 saw two sixes that saw those around the extra cover region ducking for cover and left the match officials' room windows broken as Odisha added 127 runs in the final session.