Mayank Agarwal blasted his fourth century of the season, a swashbuckling 173, before falling in what was the day's final over to propel Karnataka to 355 for 6 at stumps against Railways at Karnail Singh Stadium in New Delhi. Agarwal, who took his runs tally to 930 in the process, help Karnataka recover from 19 for 3 after R Vinay Kumar elected to bat.
Agarwal put together a 229-run fourth-wicket stand with Manish Pandey, who built on his career-best 238 against Uttar Pradesh last week to make a 169-ball 108. Karnataka would go on to lose Stuart Binny and Agarwal before close of play, but not before they had powered ahead in a game that will decide the group toppers.
R Samarth, equally in prolific form this season, was out for a duck while D Nischal, the rookie who brought up his maiden first-class ton in only his second game last week, made 8. Manish Rao picked up two wickets while four others had one each for Railways. CM Gautam, who is yet to notch up a fifty plus score this season, was unbeaten on 25.
Kunal Chandela struck a half-century on first-class debut, but it was Himmat Singh and Lalit Yadav, who built on the platform to make 99 and 62 not out respectively to hand Delhi a strong foundation. They ended the opening day on 336 for 5 against Hyderabad in Uppal after electing to bat at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
Delhi kept losing wickets every time they threatened to run away with the game. Gautam Gambhir raced to 33 in a 43-run opening stand before falling to left-arm spinner Mehedi Hasan in the ninth over. Dhruv Shorey then made a brisk 32, but fell immediately after lunch. When Chandela fell, Delhi wobbled at 143 for 3. Rishabh Pant, leading again in Ishant Sharma's absence, hit a four and a six in his 16 before falling to Rohit Rayudu's part-time offspin. Himmat and Yadav then drove the innings ahead with a century stand to help Delhi, already through to the knockouts, recover in their quest to finish as the group topper.
Half-centuries from Sibsankar Roy and Gokul Sharma, the captain, coupled with a late new-ball burst from Pritam Das gave Assam the honours on the opening day of the final round against Maharashtra in Pune. After being bowled out for 279, they dealt vital blows, including that of the in-form Ankit Bawne, as Maharashtra slipped to 64 for 3.
Assam, who were put in to bat, were in early trouble at 7 for 3, with Nikit Dhumal involved in a fiery opening spell. Roy and Sharma's century stand helped stage a brief recovery, before they were set back again, losing Roy and Amit Sinha in the space of eight deliveries to expose a brittle lower order. But the tailenders chipped in - Pritam Das and Arup Das contributed 45 and 33 at No. 9 and No. 10 respectively to help them recover from 186 for 6.
Ruturaj Gaikwad and Rohit Motwani were unbeaten at stumps, needing to bail Maharashtra out from doldrums as they seek to end a disappointing campaign on a positive note. Maharashtra have the incentive of finishing in the mid-table, while Assam are looking for their first win of the season.