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By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Feb 1, 2014
Karnataka took a lead of 210 runs in the Ranji Trophy 2013-14 final against Maharashtra at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad. After bowling out Maharashtra for 305, Karnataka were driven by tons from Lokesh Rahul and Ganesh Sathish as they were finished on 515. Maharashtra would need a supreme effort to get back into the game with a little under two days to go.
Karnataka started off positively, but Robin Uthappa was hit on his elbow early in his innings and had to retire hurt. That brought Ganesh to the centre and he started constructing a solid partnership with Rahul.
Ganesh did tell CricketCountry that they were trying to see off the initially period and only then take the attack. They did it quite well, however, Maharashtra too helped them by dropping a few chances. Rahul flayed at a delivery outside the off-stump and Khadiwale couldn’t hold on to hit as he dived to his right. Ganesh then edged one to the wicketkeeper, but Rohit Motwami only managed to palm it.
With a dour approach, they went about building the innings. While Ganesh was trying to find the gap behind point, Rahul was content in driving off the frontfoot through the off-side. As Day Two progressed, they upped the ante gradually and then dominated the spinners in particular.
Rahul even hit Chirag Khurana over long on for a six to record the first maximum of the game. But largely, they kept rotating strike through the innings. Ganesh was then dropped again in the 80s when he spooned a catch to mid-wicket. However, Sangram Atitkar juggled with it and ultimately grassed it. Rahul survived two more chances at various points in the innings as Anupam Sanklecha couldn’t hold on to return catches off his own bowling.
As Ganesh approached his ton late on Day Two, Maharashtra got their field with Atitkar’s military medium in play. Ganesh waited for his chance and then used the pace to guide it behind point and celebrated his fifth First-Class ton. It was an important innings as he wasn’t in the side for a few matches.
That relief was evident when CricketCountry spoke to Sathish, “The ton was very crucial for me. Initially, I felt I played a bit out of position as I was batting at No 7 position and I got only one innings at No 3, where I have played for the last five seasons. I was disheartened when I was out of the side, but I am happy that I got this opportunity in the final.”
Karnataka finished Day Two in command at 230 for no loss with Ganesh unbeaten on 117 and Rahul on 94.
Karnataka resumed Day Three on top, but lost Ganesh early as Chirag Khurana got one to turn in the first over and bowled him. That brought Uthappa back to the centre and he continued his attacking approach.
Rahul got to his ton with a sweep through square-leg for four. Soon after, he essayed the shot of his innings as he danced down the track to Darekar and lofted him over long-off for a six. But, a more important milestone was in store. On 127, Rahul got to 1,000 runs in the ongoing season.
With the milestone out of the way, Rahul aimed to play more freely, but he edged one to the wicketkeeper while trying to cut Mundhe.
Uthappa was given a reprieve as he played an iffy shot through the slips and Kedar Jadhav did not attempt it. It was the sixth opportunity Maharashtra had let go.
But, in the afternoon, Maharashtra turned things a touch. Uthappa played an uppish stroke to point and was caught by the substitute fielder. Samad Fallah got his movement into play and first trapped Manish Pandey leg-before and then held on to a return catch from CM Gautham.
Amit Verma and Karun Nair moved along slowly. It was largely attritional cricket with only a few boundaries into play. Late on Day Three, Khurana got his second wicket as Nair missed a reverse sweep and was given out caught behind. Verma was trapped leg-before by Fallah. On Day Three, Maharashtra had a relatively good day, conceding 244 runs and taking seven wickets. The failures of Day Two loomed large though.
On Day Three, Sanklecha dismissed Shreyas Gopal early. R Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun did flay their willows around to take Karnataka past 500.
Maharashtra 305 trail Karnataka 515 (Robin Uthappa 72, Lokesh Rahul 131, Ganesh Sathish 117; Samad Fallah 3 for 93, Shrikant Mundhe 3 for 90, Chirag Khurana 2 for 110) by 210 runs.
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