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October 2, 2005
Railways 235 for 6 (Kartik 89*, Goud 43*) lead Rest of India 223 (Jadhav 53, Parida 4-61) by 12 runs
Murali Kartik produced a splendid innings under pressure as Railways, the Ranji Trophy holders, fought back from a dire situation to seize the initiative on the second day of the Irani Trophy at the Karnail Stadium in Delhi. After Sree Santh's lively pace had made the early incisions, Ramesh Powar chipped in with four wickets as Railways were reduced to 104 for 6, but Kartik's unbeaten 89, allied with a painstaking knock of 43 from Yere Goud, the veteran of many campaigns, altered the balance in the afternoon.
On a surface where run-scoring was never easy, Kartik batted with a fluency that was beyond most batsmen on either side, smacking 13 fours and a six in his 135-ball effort. At the other end, Goud played the immovable-object role, stonewalling for long periods as the deficit was clawed back. The duo added 131 in the afternoon bat-a-thon as Rest of India's bowlers and fielders grew increasingly weary and bereft of inspiration.
They had got the perfect start after Railways resumed in the morning on 6 for 0. Santh, who plays for Kerala, had Amit Pagnis caught behind in the ninth over of the day, and then bowled Jai Prakash Yadav after Powar had trapped Sanjay Bangar (31) in front. Sadly for the Rest of India, the pick of their pace attack finished only 15.2 overs before Umpire Ravi Subramaniam suspended him from proceedings for repeatedly running onto the danger zone between the wickets.
Powar, with one eye on an India call-up given Harbhajan Singh's big-mouth travails, then set about the middle order, accounting for Tejinder Pal Singh, Raja Ali and Vineet Saxena before Kartik arrived at the crease. Fully aware that he too was under the selectorial gaze, Kartik then reeled off one of the best innings of his career to leave the match intriguingly poised heading into day three.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?