Karnataka v Maharashtra, Ranji Trophy final, Hyderabad, 2nd day January 30, 2014

Satish, Rahul put Karnataka on top

The Report by Karthik Krishnaswamy in Hyderabad

Karnataka 230 for 0 (Satish 117*, Rahul 94*) trail Maharashtra 305 (Bawne 89, Khurana 64, Mithun 3-49, Aravind 3-65) by 75 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

In the third over of Karnataka's innings, Samad Fallah angled a full delivery across KL Rahul. The batsman threw his hands at the ball, which sliced off the face of his bat to the right of gully. Diving full stretch, Harshad Khadiwale got one hand to the ball but could not cling on. It was a difficult chance.

Six overs later, Rohit Motwani, the Maharashtra wicketkeeper, could not quite use the same defence, when he dived a smaller distance to his right and spilled an edge from Ganesh Satish, off Fallah again. In the very next over, Rahul, batting on 12, drove early at Anupam Sanklecha; the bowler stuck a hand out in his follow-through, but the ball didn't stick.

At this point, Karnataka were 32 for 0. Robin Uthappa had retired hurt in the fifth over of the innings, after a Fallah incutter had struck a jarring blow on his left elbow. A wicket, to go with that incident, could have left them in a wobbly position. Karnataka had given Maharashtra three opportunities to take that wicket. Maharashtra had grabbed none of them.

Rahul ended the day unbeaten on 94. Satish, returning to the side after sitting out his team's last four matches, was with him on 117. Karnataka were 230 for no loss, and needed 76 to take the first-innings lead.   

Along the way, Maharashtra dropped two more catches. At 172 for 0, Sangram Atitkar juggled a sitter at midwicket to let Satish off on 89, off Sanklecha's bowling. In his next over, Sanklecha dropped his second return catch of the day, a simpler, two-handed effort, when Rahul was on 74.

All this happened after a first hour that had seen Maharashtra lose their last five wickets while adding just 33 to their overnight score of 272. Abhimanyu Mithun set the tone with his first ball of the morning. Going wide of the crease, he surprised Ankit Bawne, facing his first ball of the day, with the angle and, judging by how late his bat came down, a bit of extra pace. Bawne had held the innings together, and had held Maharashtra's hopes of a big total. He was gone for 89.

From that point, Karnataka's seamers ran through Maharashtra's lower order. It helped that they were bowling to Nos. 8, 9, 10 and 11 with a more or less brand-new ball. Most of Maharashtra's top six had given their wickets away on the first day.

Rahul and Satish proved just as careless. But the largesse of Maharashtra's fielders, and a pitch that eased out completely after lunch, left them with no option but to put on a massive partnership. The strokes began to flow. Rahul leaned into cover drives and rolled his wrists over pulls. Satish targeted the areas behind square with cuts, glances and glides.

After tea, both batsmen attacked the spinners. Satish late cut left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar, and hit him twice over mid-on, to go from 62 to 74. In the next over, Rahul launched offspinner Chirag Khurana for a big six over long-on.

Maharashtra went on the defensive. They packed the off-side field, and bowled wide of the stumps. This strategy, however, wasn't designed for Atitkar's hopeful slow medium. 

Rahul, eyeing the empty spaces on the leg side, paddled him for four from way outside off stump; his team-mates yelled loudly at him to stop playing such shots. Satish simply found the off-side gaps. He drilled Atitkar between mid-off and extra cover, late cut him to the left of point to bring up his century, and slapped one to point's right three balls later.  

Late in the day, an offbreak from Khurana turned, beat Rahul's attempted cover drive, and ran away for four byes past the stationary Motwani. "Don't worry!" yelled a Karnataka fan armed with a massive red and yellow flag. "The keeper won't catch it."

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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