Karnataka end winless run by overcoming Delhi
Karnataka 192 (Binny 61, Awana 5-81) and 475 for 9 dec (Binny 85, Uthappa 81, Gautam 71) beat Delhi 258 (Awana 74, Rawal 48, Sharath 4-52) and 250 (Manhas 80, Bhatia 63) by 159 runs
The wait lasted five games. Karnataka recorded their first outright win to spark life into an underwhelming Ranji season. Only two results were realistic going into the final day, as Delhi, set an improbable 410, were left fighting to save the match after losing three in a hurry the previous evening. Karnataka were held up by a century stand from the experienced duo of Mithun Manhas and Rajat Bhatia, but the wicket of Manhas opened the floodgates as Karnataka wrapped up the game not long after tea.
Karnataka had early success in the morning when Mohit Sharma was caught behind off the fifth ball of the day. While there was no doubt about that dismissal, Delhi weren't convinced about the second wicket of the day, that of Vaibhav Rawal. Rawal edged to first slip, where KL Rahul took a sharp catch diving to his right. Rawal had his doubts if it had carried and hung around till the umpires conferred. He was adjudged out, much to Rawal and Delhi's annoyance; both were certain that it was a bump ball.
It was left to Manhas and Bhatia to summon their experience and wear the bowlers down. Manhas was the more positive of the two, driving firmly down the ground and getting to his fifty before lunch with a pull to deep square leg. Delhi were five down at lunch, entering the phase where the batsmen had enjoyed the better of the conditions through the game.
Delhi offered few chances after the break, though there was a confident appeal for a catch at slip when Manhas ducked to evade a short ball, with the ball lobbing off his arm. The Karnataka players got more vocal, and the seamers getting a few to beat the outside edge. Though it was the final day, pace was preferred over spin. HS Sharath, the right-arm seamer, for a while bowled round the wicket to bounce the batsmen out.
The turning point came shortly before tea when Manhas lost concentration and pulled Stuart Binny, miscuing it to Manish Pandey who back-pedalled at square leg and took the catch. Karnataka's sharp catching ensured they never let the initiative slip after breaking the 110-run stand between Bhatia and Manhas. After tea, Kunal Kapoor took a sharp reflex catch at silly point to get rid of Bhatia as Karnataka edged closer. The fight had gone out of Delhi after Manhas' dismissal.
After Bhatia was fone, it was just a matter of time before Karnataka took the final wicket to pick up six points and jump to sixth in the points table, after languishing at the bottom. Pity though that there were hardly any spectators to witness it, given the security restrictions.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo