Karnataka on top despite Parvinder 92
Uttar Pradesh 221 for 9 (Parvinder 92, Mithun 4-70) trail Karnataka 349 (Uthappa 100, Nair 100, Gautam 100) by 128 runs
It was a comical end to a frustrating day for Karnataka after Uttar Pradesh's ninth-wicket pairing of Parvinder Singh and Ankit Rajpoot had kept the hosts at bay for an hour. Vinay Kumar had used every bowler at his disposal, but the UP pair remained resolute.
Such was the captain's frustration that at one point he was even seen holding his head when Robin Uthappa intercepted a push from Rajpoot at long leg. It was Vinay's first delivery (of what would be his final over of the day) and he had strayed down the leg side. However, Uthappa stopped the four, and the pair ran a single to bring the more settled Parvinder back on strike.
But Uthappa immediately made amends. As soon as Vinay asked Manish Pandey to deliver the final over of the day, Uthappa snatched the ball form his team-mate's hands and convinced his captain to let him bowl. After bowling two short deliveries, Uthappa surprised Pavinder with wayward movement and bounce, and the thin outside edge was picked up easily by Chidhambaram Gautam behind the wicket.
Vinay, who had not even taken a start at short cover, could not believe his luck as he joined Uthappa and his team-mates in a loud chuckle. With only RP Singh left to bat, and sitting on a 127-run lead, Karnataka will be hoping for a far more satisfying day tomorrow.
That was the kind of day Karnataka had endured. Having broken UP's back at 65 for 6, the hosts gradually loosened the noose with their own hands by dropping catches, missing run-out chances and letting the pair of Parvinder and Piyush Chawla help UP claw their way back in to the match.
Vinay forced an edge off Mukul Dagar to break the opening combination, but Lokesh Rahul spilled the catch in front his face, only to be saved by an alert Manish Pandey at second slip. Abhimanyu Mithun then took two quick wickets as UP were four down by lunch. Tanmay Shrivastava was adjudged lbw against Vinay even though the ball appeared to be sailing over the stumps. Vinay then easily got rid of Eklavya Dwivedi to raise hopes of Karnataka batting in the final session. But their poor efforts in the field gave UP a number of reprieves.
When UP were on 82, Parvinder stepped out against legspinner Shreyas Gopal. The ball turned away from him, but Gautam failed to knock the bails off cleanly in time, allowing Parvinder to turn back to safety. At that point he was on 14.
At the other end, Chawla's batting gave the impression that he was not going to last long, as he swung at every opportunity. A top edge from him had sailed over the wicketkeeper's head for a four, and he was dropped on 11 by Karun Nair at point and on 31 by Rahul again. Granted those opportunities, Chawla suddenly started to play with an uncharacteristic patience and both batsmen eventually reached their fifties, much to the annoyance of Karnataka.
After tea, Mithun started to hit the deck hard and maintained a consistent off-stump line while moving the ball away from Chawla. Having played and missed the ball on at least four occasions, Chawla finally nicked one behind to Gautam. Mithun then uprooted Amit Mishra's middle stump to hasten UP's tail and bring Rajpoot to the crease.
Rajpoot, however, did not show any urgency as he only tapped and pushed the ball without taking any risks. As Karnataka tried hard to get a breakthrough, it only allowed Parvinder to punish the bad balls which were coming in big numbers. With a pull against a short delivery from Gopal, he entered the 90s, and a deserving century was on the cards untill Uthappa decided to intervene.
Karnataka had started the day with a similar sense of frustration, as a poor effort from their lower order meant that they could add just 52 runs to their overnight score after Amit Mishra picked up six wickets, his second five-for this season.
After Nair had gotten out in the final over of the first day, it was left to Gautam to direct and carry forward the dominant position Karnataka had regained after their top-order collapse. Gautam did reach his first century of the season, but received no support from the lower order, as Mishra's probing morning spell did not allow much freedom to any of the players including Gautam, who became the third Karnataka batsman to get out exactly on 100.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo