Joshi fires Karnataka into quarter-finals
Karnataka 252 (Gautam 108, Fallah 4-47, Agharkar 3-87) and 229 (Akhil 62, Agharkar 4-56, Haque 3-67, Gaekwad 3-65) beat Maharashtra 210 (Khadiwale 70, Appanna 4-40, Joshi 4-62) and 116 (Joshi 7-29) by 155 runs
Karnataka, led by Sunil Joshi, breezed into the quarter-finals, overwhelming Maharashtra by 155 runs on a spinners' paradise at the RSI Ground in Bangalore. Joshi marked his 100th Ranji Trophy game with his fifth ten-wicket haul to bowl out Maharashtra for 116 in their second innings.
Maharashtra had no hope of an upset on this track once B Akhil and Joshi had hit out in the morning to set a target of 272. The visitors lasted only 136 minutes in their second innings; Joshi running amok to grab 7 for 29.
It was Akhil who set up the stiff target with a splendid 62 though Joshi also used the long handle effectively in a breezy 35 to push Karnataka to an unassailable position. Karnataka, a lead of 173 overnight, added 98 runs on Saturday. Akhil, who didn't make the squad at the start of the season and was drafted in later in place of Bharat Chipli, had hit a vital hundred against Uttar Pradesh in the last game and upped it with a fine knock today.
He was one of the few batsmen to come down the track repeatedly to the spinners, and started off with two fours - an off-drive and a sweep - in the first over of the day. Time and again, he punctuated his charges down the track with a hard sweep and once even reverse-swept a boundary.
Joshi joined him at 186 for 5 and he too started off with a first-ball boundary - a clean hit over mid-on. He deployed his two favourite shots - the swing over mid-off or mid-on and the slog-sweep - to good effect. Both Akhil and Joshi knew there was no point in defending on this track as they were just one unplayable ball away from getting out. However, a tad strangely, Akhil got bogged down when Joshi began to hit. He was scoreless for 20 balls before getting out. Joshi kept swinging and was the last man out, holing out to deep midwicket.
The chase was over in a blink. Joshi struck in his first over, the fourth of the innings and the last before lunch, with his signature ball on this track - pitching middle and leg and hitting off - to remove Harshad Khadiwale. The Maharashtra innings went downhill from there as Joshi kept taunting and teasing out the rest. He removed Ameya Shirkhande two balls into the second session with a snorter that turned and bounce to take the glove en route to slip.
Karnataka continued their good catching form on a poor outfield. Rohan Bhosale, who offered brief resistance, flicked Joshi hard to short-leg where KB Pawan held on to a sharp chance and KP Appanna dived low to his right at square leg to remove Deepak Shilamkar. Joshi varied his length and pace to run through the tail and when Pawan dived to his front from short leg to hold on to a catch to remove Enamul Haque jnr, it was all over. The game ended in the second session of the third day and the sparse crowd rushed in to shake hands and back-slap Robin Uthappa and Joshi.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo