Delhi aiming for a last-day graft
Delhi's chances of pulling off an outright win slumped when they were set a challenging 410 going into the final day in Bangalore. The loss of three quick wickets late in the evening has all but ruled out their pursuit for a victory, said their coach Vijay Dahiya. In the event of a draw, Delhi have the cushion of the first-innings lead which will give them three points.
"No (thoughts of a win). To be honest, looking at the situation right now we have to take it session by session," Dahiya said. "We have the first-innings lead. If it stops right here, we have three points."
On the second day, Delhi had struggled to dislodge the Karnataka opening pair of Robin Uthappa and KL Rahul, who extended their overnight stand to 140, setting the foundation for a healthy lead. Delhi had their moments in the opening session when they picked three wickets for no runs, including the openers. Karnataka were struggling at 167 for 4 at one stage but a partnership of 145 between Stuart Binny and Manish Pandey had handed the initiative back to Karnataka. Delhi failed to recover from that setback, and Dahiya admitted that his side had to take responsibility for letting things slip at a crucial stage.
"We definitely missed a trick. We should have at least stopped the flow of runs," Dahiya said. "They had a good partnership but mind you one of them (Pandey) didn't look in good flow. We couldn't check them, and their partnership was a big part of the game. If we had picked another wicket there, we would have put big pressure."
A setback for Delhi was Ashish Nehra's no-show after bowling three overs in the morning. Though Nehra has struggled to maintain his fitness through the season, his absence today increased the responsibilities on the younger crop who couldn't create enough pressure to pick up wickets. Dahiya said the team management decided to play it safe with Nehra, keeping his workload in mind.
"He bowled his heart out in the first innings but he felt the strain so we didn't want to take a chance with him," Dahiya said. "He is fit now."
Having already lost two top-order wickets, plus a nightwatchman, Delhi will have to guard against losing wickets in a hurry in the morning session, as has been the trend over the first three days. The afternoon session has been the most productive for the batsmen and Dahiya said it was important Delhi keep that in mind. He said it was the kind of pitch that will always encourage positive strokeplay, instead of stonewalling.
"The first session is always going to be tricky. The middle session is definitely a batsman's session if you apply yourself," he said. "That's when the bowlers will have to work hard.
"In this game you can't just get into a shell, you have to keep playing your shots. They (Karnataka) scored so much so if you get into a shell they will keep coming at you. One good partnership, 150-odd runs and you could put them under pressure. In every session the average is about 130 runs. If there is a ball to be hit you have to hit it."
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo