Karnataka win by an innings and 126 runs
Karnataka 452 for 9 dec beat Himachal Pradesh 179
(Bisla 42*, Vinay Kumar 3-26) and 147 (Vinay Kumar 3-32, Kumble 3-41) by an innings
and 126 runs
An all-round bowling effort from Karnataka got them 16 Himachal Pradesh wickets in a day to secure a comprehensive innings win, 28 minutes before stumps on day three. Vinay Kumar provided them the impetus, NC Aiyappa and B Akhil the required support, while Anil Kumble and Sunil Joshi attacked relentlessly once the ball got old.
Vinay and Kumble finished with six wickets each in the match. The bowling show was set up by a dominating batting performance, with centuries from Rahul Dravid - his second in succession - and Thilak Naidu.
The Himachal batsmen could never really get rid of the crowd around them, as the Karnataka bowlers always kept the slips, the silly points and the short legs busy through the day. The other fielders, who didn't get a chance to do anything spectacular, were largely impressive and safe.
Vinay provided Karnataka with breakthroughs both at the start of the day and the start of Himachal's second innings. With Himachal resuming the day at 117 for 4, Vinay struck in his second and third overs to send them down the follow-on path.
By the time Anil Kumble and Sunil Joshi had wrapped up the tail and enforced the follow-on, the wicket had become quite difficult to bat on. With the new ball in the second innings, it seemed nearly every over Karnataka bowled one shooter and one that bounced abruptly.
The Himachal batsmen, though, contributed to the fall and the inexperience of batting in the big league showed. The attack from Karnataka was relentless and the batsmen wilted easily. Sandeep Singh, their main batsman last season, started the cave-in as he tickled one wide down the leg side from Vinay. Sangram Singh got a vicious shooter from the same bowler and Karnataka, once again, were on their way. Manish Gupta hooked tamely and Ajay Mannu drove at a wide one only to edge it. Within 20 overs Himachal had lost five wickets.
When it looked like the game would get over before tea on day three, Maninder Bisla and Mukesh Kumar hung in. They had good fortune early on when Bisla survived a close lbw shout off an offcutter from Akhil and Yere Goud misjudged an easy chance off Mukesh at deep fine leg.
But after that, the two batted sensibly for 22.3 overs to add 61 runs. Although that did not threaten the result, they had created an outside chance of denying Karnataka the bonus point that comes with an innings win.
Sunil Joshi, though, broke the resistance when he trapped Mukesh plumb in front. Bisla, who has survived many lbw shouts over the last two days, finally seemed to have got a rough one as he came back aghast at a bat-pad decision off Kumble. That was the first time Bisla got out in this match as he had hung on till the end in the first innings with a valiant 43. He scored 32 in the second innings to end as top scorer in both innings.
In the first innings, Bisla had Sarandeep Singh for company as they stuck around for 64 minutes to add 39 for the eighth wicket. But it was always going to be too little with an otherwise spineless batting performance around Bisla.
For Anil Kumble the captain, most of the moves he made, paid off handsomely. Bowling changes tended to result in a wicket in the new bowler's first over, and fielders had the ball come right to them every time they were moved.
In the second innings, Akhil got a wicket with his fifth ball when he was brought on in the 15th over. Vinay, back for his second spell, got one with his third delivery. Bowling to Ashok Thakur in the first innings, Kumble called Vinay to the gully and sure enough, the edge off the next ball went straight into the gully's lap. Two balls earlier, Kumble had done in former spin partner Sarandeep Singh with one that turned and bounce and Dravid added another to c Dravid b Kumble dismissals.
With six points in this match, Karnataka seem to have made up for a slow start they had against Mumbai. For almost two days in the first match against Saurashtra, Himachal seemed to fit in with the big boys, only to collapse later and look like they were out of their league.
But Karanataka were at the top of their game and had the best of the conditions; there surely will be better days for Himachal.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo