Ranji Trophy 2012-13, Ranji Trophy, Group B, 2nd day

Karnataka strong after conceding lead

Kanishkaa Balachandran at the Chinnaswamy Stadium

December 9, 2012

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Karnataka 192 and 136 for 0 (Uthappa 77*, Rahul 53*) lead Delhi 258 (Awana 74, Sharath 4-52) by 70 runs Scorecard

Fortunes oscillated on the second day at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, but Karnataka made amends after a poor opening day with a strong opening partnership between Robin Uthappa and KL Rahul. The duo not only erased the first-innings deficit of 66 but extended the lead to 70, undefeated. Karnataka held the upper hand by taking quick wickets in the morning session, but that initiative slipped when Parvinder Awana, fresh from a five-wicket haul the previous day, made an attacking fifty to give Delhi the lead. Karnataka then came back strongly by their openers.

The talking point, though, was Awana's elevation to India's Test and T20 squads. News of his selection broke after lunch, when Delhi had taken the lead. By then, Awana had gained enough confidence to take the bowling apart, with all the specialist batsmen dismissed. His character was tested after he walked in with Delhi struggling at 144 for 7, still 48 adrift of Karnataka's score. Delhi had just lost two wickets in two balls. Puneet Bisht went forward to drive a full delivery from HS Sharath and edged to the keeper, before Rajat Bhatia provided KL Rahul with a simple catch at second slip. The initial target of 192 seemed a long way off.

Awana and Sumit Narwal kept the bowlers at bay with a steady partnership. Karnataka went on the defensive, pushing mid-off and mid-on back to the spinner KP Appanna. As Awana looked to play aggressively, the Karnataka captain Vinay Kumar had as many as four men in the deep while he was bowling. Delhi inched towards the lead and ended the opening session trailing by 15.

After lunch, Awana batted in a different gear, biffing boundaries towards midwicket and slashing over point to take Delhi closer to the lead, which they achieved with a boundary over extra cover by Narwal. Appanna then nipped out two wickets in an over, leaving Awana with the No.11 for company. Karnataka struggled to remove the last-wicket pair. Fielders were placed in the deep but Awana still found the gaps, pulling and slashing when given width. He brought up his fifty off as many balls with a hoick towards midwicket, and was dismissed on 74 when he gloved Vinay to the keeper.

It was an effective comeback by Delhi after their earlier struggle. They took the approach of batting positively, but like Karnataka, the top order was guilty of giving it away before getting settled.

Shikhar Dhawan was foxed by extra bounce from Vinay, and he gloved to the keeper; Mithun Manhas looked dangerous with some crisp cover drives before he chased a full, away-swinging delivery off his namesake Abhimanyu Mithun and got an outside edge to the keeper. Vaibhav Rawal, playing his third first-class game, looked in good touch but was lucky to be dropped on 12 when Manish Pandey was slow to react at second slip. The let-off was a bit expensive as Rawal added 50 in quick time with Bhatia and went on to score 48. Rawal was strong off the front foot, punching past cover and driving down the ground when the seamers overpitched. Sharath, the most penetrative bowler of the morning, got rid of him when he slanted one across the left-hander and induced an edge. Rawal failed to carry on after making a start, but Awana gave Delhi control.

Karnataka, in reply, had lost a wicket in the first over but the pair of Uthappa and Rahul ensured they went into the team break without having lost another wicket. Uthappa got the innings off to a positive start by angling the first ball of the innings wide of slip. The batsmen appeared to get a good measure of the second-day pitch, and waited patiently for the bad balls. Delhi maintained attacking fields but the tactic didn't work as the pair found the gaps with ease. Uthappa was strong driving down the ground while Rahul too settled into a good rhythm, getting to his fifty with a controlled glide over the slips.

Delhi had their chances of dismissing both of them, but fluffed it. Awana was the bowler on both occasions. Rahul was dropped on 44 by the keeper Bisht while Uthappa was let off on 64 by Rawal at third slip. Uthappa offered other chances too. Having endured a tough evening, Delhi will need to make the morning count on Monday, given that the first session has proven to be the most productive for the bowlers.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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