Punjab v Karnataka, Ranji Trophy, semifinals, Mohali, 2nd day January 19, 2014

Vinay Kumar five-for derails Punjab

Karnataka 39 for 2 trail Punjab 270 (Jiwanjot 74, Vinay 5-27, Shreyas 3-92) by 231 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Unlike Saturday morning which was chilly and overcast, the sun and clear blue skies made an appearance in Mohali on Sunday allowing a full day's play.

For the first half of the day, nearly everything went Punjab's way. Karnataka captain and senior bowler Vinay Kumar had to leave the field within 10 minutes of the start due to back spasms, leaving the visitors to rely on the dibbly-dobblies of Manish Pandey in the first hour itself. Jiwanjot Singh was caught dead in front while still on 0 but the umpire turned down the lbw appeal, and the in-form opener capitalised to make a brisk 74.

Punjab's most dangerous batsman, the out-of-form Yuvraj Singh, was cruising to his highest score of the season, taking the team along to 223 for 3. The early help for the seamers had vanished, Karnataka's part-time spinners weren't posing much of a threat and Punjab were zipping along at nearly four-and-a-half runs an over.

That was when occasional legspinner Amit Verma tossed up a high full toss which Yuvraj could have smashed anywhere he liked. Yuvraj picked out the man at deep midwicket, to be dismissed for 42 and a little over an hour later, Punjab had rolled over 270 - losing their final seven wickets for 47.

The collapse was masterminded by Vinay, who had returned to the field midway through the morning session after more than an hour out. Punjab's other remaining senior batsman, Mandeep Singh, was the first to go, trapped by a superb incutter. Two balls later, a plan worked perfectly as Vinay bowled a full ball on leg stump, only for Gitansh Khera to clip it to short midwicket, prompting a jubilant reaction from the fielder posted there for the shot. Gurkeerat Singh then nicked one to the keeper, Harbhajan Singh steered a catch to gully, and after a couple of big hits, Jaskaran Singh chipped a catch back to Vinay to complete the innings and a five-wicket haul.

In Vinay's absence, the Karnataka attack struggled to support the impressive but wicketless Abhimanyu Mithun, who hardly bowled any loose deliveries and tested the batsmen with well-directed bouncers. Ronit More, playing only his fifth first-class match, was profligate, gifting a boundary-ball nearly every over, to waste the new ball. After 10.5 overs he had been taken for 66 runs. Allrounder Shreyas Gopal also couldn't keep the runs down, bowling the regular hit-me delivery expected from every wristspinner bar the very best. His first 12 overs went for 75.

That contributed to Punjab's top order scoring freely, and Karnataka's decision to bowl on a track which was not particularly friendly to seamers, though it looked nearly as green as the outfield, seemed the wrong one. Opener Manan Vohra, recently in the headlines for having been retained by Kings XI Punjab, hit boundaries at will reaching a half-century at better than a run-a-ball. His opening partner Jiwanjot was a bit more sedate, but he too picked up the pace as the innings progressed.

Karnataka's early breakthroughs came more due to casual strokeplay from Punjab than from unplayable bowling. Vohra feathered through to the keeper when attempting an on-the-up drive, Jiwanjot looked to cut when the ball wasn't too far from the stumps and Taruwar Kohli punched a harmless delivery to short cover.

If Punjab were demoralised by the haste with which the middle order collapsed after that, it wasn't evident when they came out to bowl. Manpreet Gony, in particular, was hostile as Punjab's three quicks had the ball curling around and the flamboyant batsmen in Karnataka's top order were forced to be circumspect. The prolific KL Rahul fell in Gony's first over, and the usually aggressive Mayank Agarwal couldn't score for 22 deliveries before fatally flirting with a wide ball.

Robin Uthappa and Pandey knuckled down to grind out the final hour, as Karnataka progressed at well under two an over. They will have to do more of the same on Monday morning, if they are to challenge Punjab's first-innings total.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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