Uthappa's onslaught in vain as match ends in draw
Rajasthan 393 (Bist 99, Sharma 68, Jhalani 62, Joshi 6-83) and 131 (Joshi 4-25) drew with Karnataka 329 (Goud 110*, Shamsher 4-79, Aslam 4-90) and 153 for 2 (Uthappa 54)
Robin Uthappa briefly fluttered hopes of a come-from-behind Karnataka win on a dramatic final day against Rajasthan, but with time and overs fast disappearing a see-saw clash ended in a draw at the Gangothri Glades in Mysore. Sunil Joshi prompted another Rajasthan collapse earlier in the day and in a spectacular twist Karnataka needed 196 to win in a probable 27 overs. Uthappa gave an enthusiastic crowd plenty to cheer about with a robust 54 from 38 balls but with the asking rate too high, it was Rajasthan who took the game's honours, courtesy first-innings bonus points.
The groundwork for a thrilling chase was done on the fourth morning, when Rajasthan resumed on an overnight 0 for 0 and stumbled splendidly. Karnataka were far improved after near three days of below-par cricket, led by a parsimonious Joshi, who opened the bowling. From the start, Joshi hit the right areas and got the new ball to turn. In his first over, the veteran spinner was up in vigorous celebration even before the umpire adjudged that Manish Sharma got bat on ball for Uthappa at silly point to take the catch.
A change in ends for Vinay Kumar gave Karnataka their second breakthrough, as he trapped Vineet Saxena plumb in front of the stumps. Robin Bist struck one gorgeous straight drive off Joshi, but a couple deliveries later, after falling over in an attempted on-drive, was run out by a sharp Sudhindra Shinde at second slip. Bist lost balance, the ball flew wide of silly point off his pads and Shinde, with quick reflexes, threw the ball back onto the stumps. Next over, Rajesh Bishnoi tucked KP Appanna off his hips and short leg intercepted with a good catch. Joshi finished off a tight spell of 17-11-14-1 as Karnataka went in to lunch with their tails up, having prized out four wickets in the first session.
After lunch Rohit Jhalani collected a brace of boundaries, but fell while trying to hit Appanna with the spin, as Kumar completed a tumbling catch at mid-off. That made it 110 for 5 in the 57th over. Then came the collapse.
C Raghu's part-time offspin gave him two in an over, both caught at short leg, before Joshi returned to have Pankaj Singh snapped up at second slip, again by a sprightly Uthappa. Joshi mopped up the tail in one over - finishing with 4 for 25 from 28 accurate overs to make it ten in the game - and with Rajasthan all out for 131 the mood across the ground had changed dramatically.
There are few domestic players who elicit as much cheer as Uthappa does, and with a sense of excitement setting into the lazy Mysore afternoon, Uthappa, sans helmet, strode out with his partner KB Pawan.
A hurried two wide of mid-on got him off the mark, followed by singles dabbed wide of gully and cover, with the field spread. Then came a front-foot pulled six over midwicket off medium-pacer Sumit Mathur, cueing a tizzy in the burgeoning crowd. Another saunter down the track and a mistimed slog landed safely between mid-on and mid-off, but next ball the shot was corrected, all along the ground, for four down the ground. For good measure, the last ball was run down to third man.
A superb direct hit from long-off sent Pawan packing in the fifth over and Uthappa should have been caught at deep square leg soon after but the fielder reacted too late. Sudhindra Shinde eased singles but as the run rate kissed ten Uthappa reverted to reverse-sweeping Mohammad Aslam's left-arm spin for ones and twos. A four to deep square leg raised a 35-ball fifty to rapturous applause but Uthappa then chipped one to Robin Bist at deep midwicket to put any hopes of a win to rest. Shinde and B Akhil scampered runs and hit a few boundaries to keep spirits high before the game was called to a close with Karnataka 153 for 2 in 22 overs.
In the end the crowd got the excitement they wanted, courtesy Uthappa. After struggling for most of this match Karnataka did well to finish with a draw and Rajasthan, by virtue of the first-innings lead, got their first points of the season. Karnataka's next game, against Saurashtra from December 9, has been switched from the nearby Infosys Ground to this ground. Rajasthan next play Mumbai at Jhalawar, from the same date.
Jamie Alter is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo