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Ranji Trophy: Karnataka in control against Mumbai in semis

Wisden India Staff

Last Updated: February 26, 2015, 18:40 IST

Ranji Trophy: Karnataka in control against Mumbai in semis

Half-centuries from Abhimanyu Mithun and R Samarth helped Karnataka end the second day of their Ranji Trophy 2014-15 semifinal against Mumbai in a virtually impregnable position.

Half-centuries from Abhimanyu Mithun and R Samarth helped Karnataka end the second day of their Ranji Trophy 2014-15 semifinal against Mumbai in a virtually impregnable position at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. On Thursday (February 26), Karnataka set their opponents a massive 445-run target for a place in the final, after being dismissed for 286 in their second innings, for an overall lead of 444.

Aditya Tare and Akhil Herwadkar, the Mumbai openers, stood steadfast through the occasional bursts of penetrative bowling to take Mumbai to 61 without any casualties at the close, with the target still 384 runs away. Tare, the Mumbai captain, did the bulk of the scoring and was unbeaten on 40, while Herwadkar, was on 21 not out.

Mithun and Samarth began the day having come together when KL Rahul was dismissed by Balwinder Singh Sandhu to leave Karnataka 10 for 2 on Wednesday - Robin Uthappa having fallen earlier. With two of Karnataka's best batsmen dismissed, a 168-run deficit in the first innings, and the pacers fresh, quick strikes on Thursday morning would have given Mumbai a foot in the door. In the event, Mithun and Samarth not only stayed together, but slammed the door shut with a 149-run partnership. It not only helped Karnataka tide over a tricky first couple of hours, but also built the lead into a very healthy one.

Although Shardul Thakur and Wilkin Mota had started well for Mumbai, the discipline that they showed on the opening day was conspicuously absent. Mithun and Samarth capitalised on the inevitable easy passages with audacious strokes to send Mumbai's bowlers on a leather hunt.

Mithun's transition from a nightwatchman to a pinch-hitter was impressive, as he attacked with great ease. Overnight on 2, he raised his half-century off an even 50 balls. A picture of solidity, Mithun allowed Samarth to settle down during an initially nervy period. While Samarth was circumspect, Mithun was more inclined to go for his shots with the Mumbai attack losing steam rapidly. It was only when he got past 85 that Mithun slowed down a bit and Samarth upped the ante with a flurry of boundaries.

The duo had taken the lead well past 300 when Thakur finally found success with his yorker to ping back Mithun's offstump. Despite the loss, Karnataka were the happier side going to lunch at 161 for 3 in 42 overs, 151 runs coming in the session off 35 overs.

Samarth's dismissal soon after the break was a freakish one as he stepped out only too be stumped off Harmeet Singh for 58. With two quick wickets on either side of the break, Mumbai had a chance to try and mount a comeback but Manish Pandey and Karun Nair built on the early momentum to take Karnataka past the 200-run mark.

It was only when the new ball was taken in the 50th over that the bowlers threatened, and Mumbai found some success. While Nair was caught behind for 28, Sandhu pitched one in the perfect channel to draw Kunal Kapoor into his false shot, and the resultant edge was taken by Suryakumar Yadav at second slip.

A terrible mix-up led to Pandey being run out on 42 and Vinay Kumar, who had starred with 6 for 20 on the opening day, gave an easy return catch to Harmeet. Karnataka were 249 for 8 then, but the lead had swollen past 400.

CM Gautam, who walked in at No.8, had five hits to the fence before falling to Thakur's pace. A 25-run stand between the last pair of Shreyas Gopal and S Aravind further extended Karnataka's dominance as Mumbai were set a daunting target.

Thakur, who had taken four wickets on the opening day, ended with a match haul of 8 for 131. Sandhu returned 3 for 45, while Harmeet snared two wickets.

Although the pitch had eased out a bit, the cracks had widened and there is likely to be early-morning assistance for the spinners. With three days remaining, Mumbai will need to bat out of their skins to prevent Karnataka's triumphant march from continuing.

first published:February 26, 2015, 18:40 IST
last updated:February 26, 2015, 18:40 IST