Karnataka push for outright win
Delhi 258 and 40 for 3 (Mohit 4*, Manhas 1*) need a further 370 runs to beat Karnataka 192 and 475 for 9 (Binny 85, Pandey 61)
After setting up an imposing 410-run target, Karnataka struck thrice in 13 overs to leave Delhi struggling to save the game at the end of the third day's play at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Having conceded a first-innings lead, Karnataka took big steps in their bid for an outright win after their doughty lower middle-order batting had put them in a position of advantage.
The morning session has been the most productive for the seam bowlers. They picked up five wickets each in the first two days, and today, Karnataka lost four in a hurry, which included the set overnight pair of Robin Uthappa and KL Rahul. Parvinder Awana and Sumit Narwal dismissed three for no runs and the hosts' grip on the game started to slip at 167 for 4 with a lead of just 101. The two not-out batsmen, Binny and Pandey, were practically starting from scratch.
Binny's presence was reassuring for Karnataka, given that he was the only batsman to pass fifty in the first innings. The pair stuck to the plan of batting positively, picking the gaps. Binny released the pressure by stepping down the track to the left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra and launching two consecutive sixes over the sight screen. The pair went into lunch with a healthier lead of 191, having added 90.
Binny stepped up a gear after lunch, making room to the spinner and lofting over extra cover. Delhi went on the defensive, pushing the fielders back but it didn't deter either Pandey or Binny from going for the big hits. Pandey brought up his fifty with a slog over deep midwicket to lighten up a lean season with the bat. Delhi finally broke through when Pandey made room to cut Mishra and lost his off stump. The partnership of 145 was the turning point.
By the time Binny departed, spooning Bhatia to second slip for 85, the lead had passed 250. Delhi failed to run through the line-up after getting both Pandey and Binny in quick succession. With Ashish Nehra unfit to bowl, the bowlers were stretched. It showed in the body language too when Awana and Nehra were guilty of misfields. CM Gautham helped himself to a half-century, adding 63 off 69 balls with Vinay Kumar to compound Delhi's woes. Shortly after the lead had passed 400, Karnataka declared, giving their bowlers 15 overs at a deflated Delhi.
It was time well spent by Karnataka as they nipped out the openers and the nightwatchman in a fiery spell of fast bowling by Vinay, HS Sharath and Abhimanyu Mithun. Unmukt Chand was struck on the pads by Vinay, before Sharath removed two in his first over, trapping Shikhar Dhawan on the backfoot and getting the nightwatchman Mishra edging to slip. Karnataka are now seven wickets away from their first outright win of the season. From Delhi's perspective, a draw is all they can realistically hope for.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo