Ranji Trophy: Pavan Deshpande helps Karnataka take a 150-run lead

Resuming the day at 67 for one, Karnataka dashed Maharashtra’s hopes of an early breakthrough and reached 313 for nine at stumps, in response of Maharashtra’s modest 163.

Pavan Deshpande Karnataka v Maharashtra

Karnataka's debutant Pavan Deshpande scored 70 runs to help his team take lead over Maharashtra.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Debutant Pavan Deshpande cracked a strokeful 70 and stitched two successive half-century stands on the second day to establish Karnataka’s supremacy over Maharashtra in their Ranji Trophy league match here on Thursday.

>Scorecard

Resuming the day at 67 for one, Karnataka dashed Maharashtra’s hopes of an early breakthrough and reached 313 for nine at stumps, in response of Maharashtra’s modest 163. A lead of 150, plus a wicket in hand, has given Karnataka the upper at the halfway stage of this key contest.

After the overnight second-wicket stand between R. Samarth and Kaunian Abbas produced 101 runs, with Anupam Sanklecha rattling former’s stumps, Deshpande held centrestage.

He raised 80 runs for the fourth wicket with Stuart Binny, who fell short of a well-deserved half-century, and another 54, for the fifth wicket with C.M. Gautam.

Dropped on 22 by lone slip fielder Kedar Jadhav, Deshpande prospered. He was particularly quick to punish the short-pitched deliveries from the Maharashtra medium pacers as his innings was studded with 12 boundary-hits.

In fact, unlike the Karnataka bowlers, Maharashtra erred in length and did not manage to swing the ball enough to trouble the batsmen.

As it turned out, once Deshpande missed on a big one after being cleaned up Chirag Khurana, just before the second new ball became due, the Karnataka lower-order fell rather cheaply. Beginning with Despande’s wicket, Karnataka lost five wickets in the space of 57 runs and 19.3 overs.

In fact, what helped Karnataka innings last the day was the revised-decision of Maharashtra to allow a replacement for Manish Pandey who had to rush to Mumbai on Wednesday afternoon to join the Indian Test team against England.

Maharashtra agrees for replacement

Maharashtra’s skipper Swapnil Gugale, who categorically declined Karnataka’s request for a replacement after Pandey’s departure on Wednesday afternoon, said, “This morning once the play began, the umpires told me that there was a request from the Karnataka team management to reconsider my decision of not allowing a substitute (for Pandey). I told the umpires that I need one over away from the field to consult my team management. The team management deemed it fit to allow a substitution and I conveyed the decision to the umpires.”

Interestingly, in contrast to Gugale’s version, match referee Pranab Roy said, “This morning, once the play started, the Maharashtra skipper had informed the umpires that it had revised its decision not to allow a replacement for Pandey. Now it had no objection to Karnataka replacing Pandey with another player. I also have this undertaking in writing from Maharashtra.”

However, notwithstanding the contrasting “official” lines given by Roy and Gugale, there were indications to believe that Maharashtra was made to revise its earlier decision.

Medium-pacer David Mathias was drafted into the playing the XI, a late choice ahead of Robin Uthappa. Perhaps, what titled the scales in favour of Mathias was the fact that the team needed a new-ball bowler considering that back-spasm had forced A. Mithun to stay away after bowling just two deliveries on Wednesday morning. On the brighter side, Mithun did come out to bat on Thursday.