Joshi bowls Karnataka to bonus point
Karnataka 395 (Naidu 90, Dravid 83, Akhil 66, Joshi 55) and 60 for 0 (Uthappa 44*) beat Baroda 169 (Solanki 53, Raju 4-30) and 285 (Williams 137, Solanki 66, Joshi 6-48) by ten wickets
Karnataka moved to the top of Group B with a ten-wicket win over Baroda at the RSI Ground in Bangalore. Sunil Joshi picked up his 28th five-for in first-class cricket before openers Robin Uthappa and KB Pawan rattled off the 60-run target in 6.2 overs, shortly before tea on the final day, to hand Karnataka a bonus point. Karnataka are on 13 points from four games but Tamil Nadu, on 12 points, have a game in hand.
Baroda's hopes of saving the game on the final day rested on Connor Williams, who played an uncharacteristic shot to give it away after fighting for 459 minutes. Despite a long-on in place, he charged down to heave Joshi - the eight wicket to fall. However, the turning point of the game was the two wickets late last evening when Rahul Dravid and Pawan took stunning catches to dismiss Rakesh Solanki and Shatrunjay Gaekwad.
On a cloudy winter's day, where misty rain stopped the game for 15 minutes in the first session, Karnataka applied relentless pressure to force open the cracks in Baroda's lower middle-order. Pinal Shah, who survived a confident caught-behind appeal off Sunil Joshi, fell to the same bowler, trapped in front and walked off even before the decision was given.
Ketan Panchal, though, was given out caught down the leg side, much to the batsman's surprise. No such doubt for Rajesh Pawar, who was caught by an acrobatic effort from the Thilak Naidu - the keeper flung himself to his right to pluck a superb catch. The seamers, R Vinaykumar and NC Aiyappa - who removed Panchal for his 99th first-class wicket - had done their job before Joshi came back to wipe the tail.
Pawan started off the chase with a flicked four and a pull in the first over before Uthappa exploded in a fury, walking down to the seamers, lofting over long-on and pulling over midwicket. Baroda could have denied Karnataka the bonus point. Pawar dropped Uthappa on 13, with the total on 20, when he could not hold on to a fierce cut at backward point. Uthappa flicked one through midwicket to bring up the winning runs even as a light drizzle drenched the ground ever so slowly.
Baroda, on four points, have three home games coming up and hope to have the services of Irfan and Yusuf Pathan for two of those and Sri Lanka's Dilhara Fernando, their overseas signing, for the tough clash against Tamil Nadu. As things stand, Tamil Nadu should qualify for the quarter-finals without much fuss and it remains to be seen whether Baroda can push Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh for a spot in the knock-out phase.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo