Delhi v Karnataka, Ranji Trophy, Delhi, 3rd day January 1, 2014

Karnataka eye another win on last day

The Report by Amit Shetty in Delhi

Delhi 202 and 132 for 6 (Manhas 32, More 3-27, Sharath 2-24) lead Karnataka 289 (Nair 105, Binny 88, Nehra 3-39) by 45 runs

Hosts Delhi faced the ignominy of officially crashing out of the Ranji Trophy as table toppers Karnataka are closing in on a comprehensive victory to finish their league engagements on a high note as Virender Sehwag's first-class season ended with yet another poor outing. With opener Karun Nair completing a well-deserved century, Karnataka scored 289 in their first essay taking a handy first-innings lead of 87 runs before Delhi's top order once again flattered to deceive as they ended the day at 132 for 6. 

This effectively means that Delhi are 45 ahead with four wickets in hand and a possibility of Karnataka winning with bonus points can't be ruled out. The back-to back defeats are embarrassing for a Delhi team that looked formidable on paper with the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Mithun Manhas to name a few while Karnataka decided to rest their pace spearhead Abhimanyu Mithun and top run-scorer KL Rahul.

Having taken the lead yesterday, Karun Nair (105) completed his maiden first-class ton in his third game with a drive off Manan Sharma. Ashish Nehra, Delhi's best bowler this season, removed Nair with a delivery that kept low. Nair faced 232 balls hitting 12 fours and a hooked six off Nehra.

While Nehra, 3 for 39 from 20 overs, bent his back, there was no help for the pacers as the ball refused to rise above knee roll. Not that there was anything special in store for the spinners as the balls that kept low spelt danger for the batsmen. Varun Sood got his wickets with identical deliveries and finished with 3 for 93.

With Punjab already beating Jharkhand fair and square, there was a considerable lack of interest among the Delhi players as Sehwag (11) and Gambhir (26) came out to open. They were together for 11.2 overs in which they added 38 but not for a single moment did they have any conviction in their batting. Gambhir, as usual, played those dab shots which went past the slips while Sehwag tried to concentrate without looking convincing at all.

Finally, it was Gambhir who paid price for the low bounce as an HS Sharath delivery thudded onto the pads when he hadn't totally committed to the frontfoot. Within the addition of another three runs, Sharath got Sehwag with one that kept low but moved in after pitching as umpire Michael Gough raised his finger almost immediately. Sehwag has managed 234 runs in this season at a dismal average of 19.50 from 13 innings.

Left-handed batsman Manan Sharma (2) was taken by seamer Ronit More with one that held its line after pitching. Mithun Manhas (32) and Rajat Bhatia (30) tried their hands at repair job but it only worked for a while before legspinner Shreyas Gopal pulled off a stunner. Manhas charged down and hit a thumping drive and the bowler dived full length to take an acrobatic catch.

At 82 for 4, Rahul Yadav joined Bhatia as they added 39 runs before More removed both at the fag end of the day. He first got Bhatia nicking an outswinger to wicketkeeper CM Gautam while Yadav was done in by the slowness of the pitch as he dragged one back onto the stumps. It is now a matter of time before Karnataka end another woeful domestic season for Delhi where they hardly ticked any positive boxes.