Haryana hold edge after see-saw day
Karnataka 151 and 122 for 3 (Uthappa 53, Satish 33*, Rana 2-18) lead Haryana 272 (Dewan101, Saini 69, Binny 4-54, Aiyappa 3-70) by 1 run
On another eventful day in Bangalore, which saw fifteen wickets fall, Karnataka won the first session, then gave away the middle one to Haryana, and just when it seemed like they had bounced back after tea lost their top order, giving the visitors a slight edge at the halfway stage of the quarter-final contest. In response to Karnataka's 151, Haryana started solidly but lost seven wickets for 36 runs in the second hour of the morning before a stubborn 74-run eighth-wicket partnership between captain Amit Mishra and Mohit Sharma allowed them to take a vital 121-run lead. At stumps, Karnataka had managed to go ahead by one run on the back of an aggressive half-century from Robin Uthappa.
Uthappa started the second innings with a powerful square cut against Ashish Hooda that raced past the point boundary. KB Pawan, his opening partner, matched Uthappa with a fluent square-driven four. But in the sixth over, Pawan was defeated by an inswinger from Sachin Rana that hit him in line with middle stump.
At the other end Uthappa remained unaffected, playing with confidence and getting his feet near the pitch of the ball. Cuts, punched drives, both off the front and back foot, and straight drives helped Uthappa dominate the bowling. He reached his half-century with a straight six against the medium pace of Mohit Sharma. But on 53, Uthappa, in a moment of complacency, was dismissed in similar fashion to Pawan; Rana trapped him plumb in front with one that nipped in.
Then, five overs before stumps, Karnataka suffered another setback when their captain Ganesh Satish ran out out his partner Bharat Chipli. Satish pushed an off break from Mishra to point and started off for a run. Chipli responded positively but, having seen the point fielder charge in on the ball, Satish decided to turn back. Chipli had already come midway down the pitch, and an agile Rahul Dewan, the wicketkeeper, caught the throw in front of the stumps and threw down the wickets at the bowler's end down to beat Chipli's retreat.
Even though they finished the day on an even keel, it had been a topsy-turvy day for Haryana. Their overnight batsmen Rahul Dewan and Nitin Saini were circumspect for the first 45 minutes. At 152 for no loss, Haryana were in a good position to build a big lead. However, in a lazy moment, Saini attempted a half-hearted pull against Stuart Binny. Uthappa, standing at mid-wicket, took the catch easily.
Saini's dismissal was part of a mini-collapse of four wickets for just twelve runs. Binny, Karanataka's best bowler in the match, and season, bowled a perfected outswinger that induced a thick outside edge from Haryana's most-dependable batsman Sunny Singh. The morning was 90 minutes old. Karanataka's bowlers were getting hungry now. NC Aiyappa bowled aggressive lines and good lengths to induce edges from Prateek Pawar and Sachin Rana off successive deliveries in his first over of the morning. Aiyappa missed his hat-trick and was not the only bowler to miss one on the day.
Left-arm spinner KP Appanna, joint-fourth on the wicket-charts in the Elite division this season, got the important wicket of Dewan and then dismissed Jayant Yadav next ball in only his second over of the day. Mohit Sharma negotiated his arm ball, denying him a hat-trick.
Till his erroneous decision to attempt a cut off Appanna, Dewan had managed to keep his head despite the flurry of wickets at the other end. He pulled Aiyappa to get to his third century of the season, which took him 192 deliveries and included 13 boundaries. But three balls later, he tried to cut Appanna with the ball far from his body, and got a thick edge that was pouched brilliantly by wicketkeeper CM Gautam, giving him his fifth catch of the innings. The next delivery from Appanna was, not surprisingly, an arm ball that slid in to new batsman Yadav and hit him on the back leg. He was rightly adjudged lbw for a duck. Haryana finished the first session having got 75 runs for seven wickets off 34 overs.
The pitch became a bit slower after lunch and the Karnataka bowlers' lines got shorter, allowing Mishra and Mohit Sharma to settle down. Even the second new ball, taken immediately after 80 overs, did not stop the Haryana pair from scoring easy runs.
An hour after lunch, Mishra, on 44, attempted a hook shot against Binny. He could not make clean contact and the top-edge sailed towards deep square leg where an advancing Aiyappa claimed he had taken the catch. Replays, though, clearly showed the ball had slipped through his palms and he had picked it up on the bounce as he fell forward. The square-leg umpire Amiesh Saheba informed Sudhir Asnani that the catch had not been taken, and the Karnataka appeal was quashed instantly. Five runs later Mishra was adjudged leg before by Asnani to a Binny delivery that had deviated into his legs and appeared to be marginally missing leg stump.
The match has been full of incident, with the momentum swinging like a pendulum between both sides; the final two days promise more.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo