Karnataka v Maharashtra, Ranji Trophy, final, Hyderabad, 4th day February 1, 2014

Another ton for Jadhav but Karnataka still on course

The Report by Karthik Krishnaswamy in Hyderabad

Maharashtra 305 and 272 for 6 (Jadhav 112, Bawne 61, Vinay 4-84) lead Karnataka 515 (Rahul 131, Satish 117, Fallah 3-74) by 62 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Before he walked in to bat on Saturday, Kedar Jadhav had made scores of 51, 120*, 40 and 37 in his four previous innings. Across those four innings, he had scored 66.94% of his runs in fours and sixes. On Saturday, Karnataka had a plan against him. They spread their fields. At times, they had four fielders in the deep. More often, they had between five and seven men guarding the boundary.

Cricket fans of the future, and those of the present who didn't watch the match, might look at the scorecard of the 2013-14 Ranji Trophy final and imagine that Jadhav's 135-ball 112 was a daring backs-to-the-wall counterattack full of thrilling strokes. Jadhav, though, had good reason to feel this was the easiest of his six centuries this season.

When Jadhav walked in to bat, after Vijay Zol had edged Vinay to the keeper first ball after lunch, Maharashtra were 54 for 2 in their second innings.

Between Zol's dismissal and tea, Maharashtra scored 110 runs off 149 balls. Only 32 of those runs came in boundaries. At tea, they were only 46 behind, with eight wickets in hand and their two best batsmen, Jadhav and Ankit Bawne, batting on 55 and 59. Even when Bawne was on strike, Karnataka's fields hadn't changed in any marked way. Early in the second session, Bawne, batting on 13, had edged S Aravind for successive fours through the vacant slip region.

Karnataka had meant to keep the scoring rate down. They ended up gifting easy runs to Maharashtra. They took four wickets in the final session and ended the day right on top, with Maharashtra six down with a lead of just 62, but that was by no means proof that their tactics had worked.

For one, they had conceded 272 runs in 68 overs. On the third day, against Maharashtra's more conventional defensive fields, they had scored 240 in 90. Maharashtra's batsmen, moreover, played a large role in their own dismissals in the final session.

In the second over after tea, legspinner Shreyas Gopal went around the wicket and aimed at the rough outside leg stump. Fourth ball of the over, Bawne came out of his crease a touch early, a touch too eagerly, and missed the line by yards, leaving CM Gautam an easy stumping to complete. Bawne was out for 61; he had taken 39 singles and three twos.

Before the third ball of Gopal's next over, Karnataka moved their short fine-leg to a deepish square-leg, their deepish square-leg to deep midwicket, and their deep midwicket to short fine-leg. All of this may have confused Sangram Atitkar, who promptly top-edged a slog-sweep, out of the rough, to the short fine-leg, who had been stationed for exactly that shot.

Jadhav and new man Chirag Khurana continued taking the singles on offer. The first 50 runs of their partnership contained just two fours, but still only consumed 70 balls. When they brought up that landmark, Maharashtra were 14 runs ahead, with six wickets in hand.

Two overs later, Jadhav went to 94 by cutting occasional legspinner Amit Verma to deep point for a single. He swept him fine for four when he got back on strike, and worked the next ball for two off his pads to bring up his century, off just 118 balls.

The fifth-wicket partnership had moved to 88 when Khurana sliced a full-toss from Vinay Kumar straight to cover. This was Vinay's 299th wicket. In his next over, he had his 300th. Once again, it was Robin Uthappa who took the catch at cover, after Jadhav spooned another full toss straight to him.

Karnataka had started the fourth day with an overwhelming advantage, and their last three pairs had extended it by adding 41 runs in the morning. Through most of the third innings, they had let that advantage drift to an alarming degree. But with mere minutes to go for stumps, it had been almost entirely restored.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor in ESPNcricinfo

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