Rampant Karnataka close in on innings win
Tamil Nadu 134 and 113 for 3 (Aparajith 36*) trail Karnataka 762 (Nair 328, Rahul 188, Vinay 105) by 515 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Two days into the match, it was already clear Karnataka were going to defend their title. Karun Nair had already become the second batsman to score a triple-hundred in a Ranji final, and Karnataka had already piled up a 500-plus first-innings lead. The third day was always going to be about piling up more misery on Tamil Nadu and more records for the statisticians.
They succeeded in doing both. Nair and Vinay Kumar erased various records and Karnataka posted a Brobdingnagian total of 762 to finish with a lead of 628 runs. Then the Karnataka bowlers unit gave Tamil Nadu another lesson and struck three vital blows before stumps, leaving an innings win a distinct possibility.
The day began with Nair 10 short of erasing Gul Mohammed's long-standing record for the highest individual score in a Ranji Trophy final, 319 for Baroda against Holkar 68 years ago. Tamil Nadu tried to prevent him from taking the record with, for the first time in their prolonged stint on the field, some innovative tactics. Both their seamers, L Balaji and Aswin Crist, bowled around the wicket with a packed leg-side field, with a conventional square leg and two fielders behind square.
Nair still found ways to score runs in that area. He opened his account for the day with a pull off Crist that raced to fine-leg boundary, and four overs later flicked Balaji behind square for the single that took him past 319. The next landmark would be 338, which would make him Karnataka's highest individual scorer. But soon after he had gotten into the list of the top ten Ranji Trophy individual scores, he was left rooted to the crease by a fuller ball from Vijay Shankar. The ball rapped him on the pads and brought his marathon knock, lasting 872 minutes, to an end.
That was only momentary response for Tamil Nadu, though. Vinay, who was on 48 when Nair returned to the pavilion to a standing ovation from his teammates and a handful of spectators, took charge along with S Aravind. Both batsmen are no mugs with the bat and it showed in their array of strokes.
With the injured Prasanth Parameswaran off the field and the rest of the Tamil Nadu attack weary after more than 200 overs on the field, Vinay and Aravind batted with gusto. Vinay rotated the strike while Aravind found the boundary frequently with his drive particularly productive. Immediately after bringing up his maiden first-class fifty, Aravind flicked Crist to M Shahrukh Khan, the substitute fielder stationed at short leg.
Vinay was unbeaten on 77 then. He required HS Sharath to hold on to an end if he was to achieve the rare distinction of a five-wicket haul and a hundred in the same match. The big shots started coming. He pulled Balaji for four and then sent him into the stands over long-off in the same over. Three overs later, he hoicked Vijay Shankar's misfired yorker over cow corner and entered the nineties. With nine wickets down, Vinay was in a hurry to get to his century before lunch, but remained on 97 when the players walked off the field.
Fifth ball after lunch, Vinay pulled Vijay Shankar to midwicket boundary and raised his arms in delight. He had become the first captain, and second player since Vijay Hazare, to have achieved the double in a Ranji final. He had done it on Hazare's birth centenary.
A couple of overs later, Sharath was stumped by B Indrajith, who was keeping in the absence of Dinesh Karthik, who was suffering from acidity. By then, Karnataka had posted the second-highest total in a Ranji final.
After close to 17 and a half hours on the field, Tamil Nadu had to try and restore some pride. For that, they required either of their reliable openers to play a long haul. Neither Abhinav M nor M Vijay could achieve it. Abhinav attempted a reckless cut off Shreyas Gopal in the legspinner's second over, missed it and saw the ball crash into middle stump. Vijay started on a good note, crunching a drive and a flick off successive balls from Sharath. But Vinay, who didn't take the new ball, got one to jag back in and found him plumb in front for the second time in the match. It was then up to the twins, B Aparajith and B Indrajith, to see the day out for Tamil Nadu. But Indrajith, having just struck a six and a four off the previous two balls, glided Shreyas straight into Vinay's palms at slip.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo