Punjab v Karnataka, Ranji Trophy, semifinals, Mohali, 3rd day January 20, 2014

Nair hundred puts Karnataka in charge

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Karnataka 351 for 5 (Nair 107*, Verma 65*, Pandey 65) lead Punjab 270 (Jiwanjot 74, Vinay 5-27, Shreyas 3-92) by 81 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

On Sunday evening, Punjab's trio of quicks had the ball swerving around and handcuffed Karnataka's usually adventurous batsmen. They struggled to pose similar threat on Monday, as Karnataka took charge of the game, leaving Punjab needing something special to progress to the final.

Karun Nair's breakthrough season became even more luminous with his third successive century to lead a day of substantial partnerships. Not once did Punjab strike twice quickly as Karnataka put on stands on 71, 64, 83 and an unbroken 110, again showcasing the team effort that has underlined their run to the semifinals.

The day began with Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey, Karnataka's two senior-most batsmen, needing to lay the platform for a lengthy batting line-up to build on. Barely 10 minutes after the start, the 24-over-old ball was replaced as one side was frayed and the replacement ball didn't jag around as much. The pair played the pace bowlers confidently on a pitch that had few demons in it, and after the first few overs they started to reel off boundaries.

It was the spin of Harbhajan Singh that caused them problems. Harbhajan nearly had Uthappa dismissed in his first full over of the day, but the umpire failed to spot that a catch to short leg came off the glove. much to the bowler's chagrin. Harbhajan didn't have to wait long though, as in the first ball of the next over he trapped Uthappa lbw.

There were other decisions which went against Punjab as well, and they cost the team plenty. Pandey was lbw off Harbhajan on 48 but lived on, and a struggling Amit Verma was clearly lbw on 6 but wasn't given. All three decisions were made by umpire Subrat Das, who seems to be a batsman's umpire, having turned down two certain lbws when Karnataka were bowling yesterday.

Pandey played a few loose shots, but with a stylish innings he blunted Punjab's bowling in the morning session. He kicked off a run-spree with an audacious front-foot pull, and despite losing Uthappa, Karnataka were well on top as the session drew to a close. In the final over before the break, though, Punjab were back in it as Pandey tickled a Sandeep Sharma delivery to the keeper.

At 158 for 4, it was still even but CM Gautam put Karnataka back on top with a typically enterprising innings. Nair was more cautious, but Gautam again showed off how good he is on the sweep - both conventional and reverse - to tackle Harbhajan. As the shots flowed, he scored at nearly a run-a-ball to eat into Punjab's lead. By the time he was dismissed by Harbhajan for a 54-ball 48, Karnataka were only 29 behind.

Nair could have been run-out on 1 itself, just getting home before the stumps were broken. He was also troubled by a short ball from Jaskaran Singh, but he showcased a solid defensive technique and cleverly picked off boundaries at the vacant third-man region. When Gautam was scoring freely, he too joined in, as Punjab had to turn to weak links like Taruwar Kohli's medium-pace.

The only sustained period of pressure came when Verma, playing his first game of the season, looked like a walking wicket early on, beaten plenty of times as he staggered to 6 off 59 deliveries - including an outside edge for four to third man. The arrival of the new ball though changed his approach, as he stroked five boundaries in eight balls and began to looked far more composed.

Nair cashed in as Punjab's back-up bowlers posed little threat and towards the end of the day, after Karnataka had taken the lead and the home side seemed to be going through the motions. The partnership between Nair and Verma swelled past a hundred, and Punjab rarely looked like taking a wicket as their final chances began fading.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sujithgwda on January 21, 2014, 11:09 GMT

    I'm happy to see some support for vinay kumar after a long time. I feel that he is the right guy to lead indian bowling attack in the absence of zaheer. He has the skill and the temp for leading the pack, unlike others who's performance decrease upon given leadership. He will help MSD prolong his career. A Die hard Vinay Kumar fan

  • android_user on January 21, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    At best I would pick Vinay Kumar if I had bowlers like Steyn/Morkel, McGrath/Lee, Wasim/Waqar, Harmison/Flintoff at the other end who put enough doubts in the mind of the batsmen that batsmen feel the urge to take extreme risk against Vinay Kumar to score runs. But with India's bowling line up, as it is opposition batsmen do not feel the urge to take risk as they are easy pickings the likes of Ishant Sharma and so on. Vinay Kumar if anything, is more a relief bowler. And not to mention, Vinay Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Jaydev Unadkat, Sandeep Sharma etc pick wickets when conditions are overcast + inch long blades of grass is grown on the wicket.

  • dummy4fb on January 21, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    @ Kumar Sujeet, Thank you, I am a big fan of Vinay Kumar. He sincerely deserve an opportunity to play for India in tests.

  • android_user on January 21, 2014, 8:04 GMT

    Punjab is the kind of state from which you would expect Strong aggressive fast bowlers to emerge. But looks like even Punjab is producing those little outswing bowlers highly dependent on conditions and conversely Karnataka has H.S.Sharath while you expect Karnataka to produce intelligent spinners (Kumble, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna, Sunil Joshi, Raghuram Bhat etc.)

  • vipinchirackal on January 21, 2014, 6:07 GMT

    no doubt batsman of this year is karan nair from karnataka.he has an excellent batting technique that most of the leading international players possess.he is one batsman we have to look for the future along with sanju samson and zole

  • android_user on January 21, 2014, 6:01 GMT

    karnataka is the in form and favorite team to win ranji 2014

  • Sir_Ivor on January 21, 2014, 4:54 GMT

    I am quite impressed with this young batsman,Karun Nair. He seems to have that big match fearlessness that augurs well. He is technically sound and avoids extravagant strokeplay unlike his more experienced colleague Manish Pandey. With the likes of Rahul,Nair,Gopal and Sharath, I think Karnataka is going to be in the forefront in domestic cricket for a long time.

  • suni7d on January 21, 2014, 4:11 GMT

    good knock by Karin Nair

  • prashanthubi on January 20, 2014, 23:13 GMT

    Well played Karnataka. ...keep the gud work gng....

  • android_user on January 20, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    congrats karun .well done Karnataka .should build @ 200 run lead and enter finals as favs .looks like they played finals against up , semis against Punjab & qf against Maharashtra

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