Awana bundles out Karnataka for 192
Delhi 44 for 2 (Dhawan 38*, Sharath 2-13) trail Karnataka 192 (Binny 61, Awana 5-81) by 148 runs
On a pitch that resembled a lawn, with the only patches of white near the rough on either side, Karnataka captain Vinay Kumar chose to give his batsmen first use of the pitch, despite their batting struggles all season. While it might be perceived as a brave decision, it backfired on the hosts. Karnataka were still searching for their first outright win, and they were presented with what looked like a result-oriented wicket. Delhi weren't complaining though. Their seamers, led by Parvinder Awana, bundled out the hosts for 192 and ended the day in front despite losing two wickets as the shadows lengthened in Bangalore.
There were only seven overs of spin among the 65 bowled by Delhi, rare by Indian standards and current trends in the subcontinent where it's common to see a spinner bowling with the new ball. Ashish Nehra's return gave Delhi the extra firepower on paper, but the momentum was with Awana, who took his second consecutive five-wicket haul.
It didn't take long for Delhi to strike, though Nehra could count himself lucky. Robin Uthappa went a long way across and the ball struck his pads, and after a bit of thought, the umpire ruled in favour of the bowler. Nehra didn't get the ball to move as much as the other seamers, and preferred bowling shorter.
A number of Delhi's bowling manoeuvers brought immediate results, starting with Sumit Narwal replacing Awana from the Pavilion End. Like Nehra, Narwal struck in the first over of his spell when he pitched one up to Ganesh Satish who drove and edged it to the wicketkeeper Puneet Bisht, who took the first of his five catches. Awana too changed ends and the move worked when he beat KL Rahul for movement and sent his off stump for a spin.
It was an opportunity for Manish Pandey to take on a leadership role with the debutant Kunal Kapoor, but he too didn't last long, edging Narwal to Bisht who took a low catch falling forward. Another bowling change brought another wicket, when Rajat Bhatia replaced Narwal from the Pavilion End and had Kapoor edging to Bisht, who came up to the stumps. At lunch, Karnataka had lost five and thoughts went back to their decision at the toss.
The only batsman who looked like taking on the Delhi bowlers was Stuart Binny. Post lunch, he batted positively, pulling a short ball to fine leg and driving crisply down the ground. A stable batsman at the other end would have helped Binny build, but the pressure increased when the last-recognised batsman in the line-up, CM Gautam, fell to a loose shot. He was let off by Mithun Manhas at first slip, but it didn't cost Delhi anything when Gautam slashed and edged Awana to Bisht.
Binny motored along to his fifty by whipping Nehra towards deep midwicket for two boundaries. He went on to make 61 before edging Awana to Bisht, who took his fifth catch. By setting attacking fields, Delhi never let the game drift. Karnataka would have expected the pitch to ease for batting after lunch, but the seamers kept the ball up, got it to swing and induced mistakes.
Awana picked up his fourth when he trapped Abhimanyu Mithun in front of the stumps with a full ball and later rounded off the innings when he sent KP Appanna's middle stump back by a few yards. Speaking after the day's play, Awana said he had been working on an away swinging delivery, in particular the one that beat Rahul's defense. Awana, who had taken a five-for in the previous match against Haryana in seamer-friendly Lahli, said the pitch in Bangalore had more bounce.
Shikhar Dhawan led Delhi's reply with some crisp cover drives off the front foot and put away HS Sharath for boundaries over the off side as soon as the bowler was introduced first change. Sharath, though, quickly shook off that wayward beginning when he trapped a watchful Unmukt Chand lbw, before having Mohit Sharma caught down the leg side. It was smart field placement that led to that wicket. A short fine leg was in place, the ball was directed at the batsman's body from round the wicket and Mohit could only fend it straight to the fielder.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo