S Vidyut, who has a first-class century batting at No. 11, punished the lacklustre Karnataka bowlers ruthlessly on day two at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Beating his personal best and missing his first double-century by seven runs, Vidyut took Tamil Nadu to a position from where they could seriously control the game.
With their captain Robin Uthappa on a drip - he spent more than half of day one off the field because of a viral fever - Karnataka's inexperienced batting line-up faced a tough task of getting close to Tamil Nadu's huge first innings, their second 500-plus score in a row. They batted resolutely to play out 27 overs for the loss of one wicket.
Vidyut resumed the second day in the same fashion as he had left off yesterday - cautiously after a violent mid-day assault. In the first six overs of the day, he scored only four runs. Once Karnataka took the new ball, and he got used to it, Vidyut unleashed his power hitting. R Vinay Kumar, Karnayaka's most effective bowler, was hit for two boundaries in his second over with the new ball. This Karnataka attack lacked so much in depth that a batsman only needed to see off Vinay, and Vidyut did that without incident.
From the moment the spinners came on, Vidyut and Suresh Kumar, the overnight partner, tucked into them. Mid-way into the first session, seven continuous overs went for at least a boundary or a six each. In no time, Vidyut had reached the 190s and there was no element of slogging to his assault.
He stepped out to the spinners repeatedly, covering a lot of ground and reaching the pitch of the ball, and looked to hit straight with immense power. A similar shot off Sunil Joshi hit the sight screen even before the bowler could turn back and see where the ball went. Of the 94 deliveries he faced today, Vidyut scored 82, getting 52 of them in fours and sixes. His most productive shot, though, consumed him when seven short of what would have been would be a maiden double. Vidyut charged C Raghu, the most impressive of the spinners, was beaten in the flight, yet still went ahead with the shot, only for the ball to turn sharply and beat him.
Suresh, from the other end, provided him with solid support. He began the day on 23 and started slowly, but once Vidyut opened his shoulders, he matched the left-hander shot for shot. He hit Vinoo Narayanan, who gave up bowling because of a cut finger, for a six, and then meted out the same to Joshi, who took over bowling from Vinoo. Those sixes came immediately after Suresh had reached his second first-class half-century.
After Vidyut's dismissal, with the team score at 447, Suresh took charge of the situation. Two quick wickets fell, but for the eighth wicket he found an able ally in his namesake, C Suresh, the left-arm spinner. The two added 42 to take Tamil Nadu to 500, as Suresh reached 90. But his maiden century was not to be. He was given out lbw to Joshi and showed displeasure at the decision. Immediately, the bat went up in the air to suggest to the umpire he had hit it, and he walked off reluctantly looking back at the umpire repeatedly. C Suresh didn't give it up easily, and took the score to 531. He stayed unbeaten at 31.
Karnataka's batsmen faced a huge task when they came in to bat, especially with their captain out of the picture for the time being. But Bharat Chipli, the makeshift opener, and KB Pawan started off resolutely. Chipli continued with his reputation of not being a good leaver outside the off stump, but today he managed to hit them off the middle of the bat. L Balaji and Ganapathy, the opening bowlers, failed to get any disconcerting movement either in the air or off the pitch. Chipli started off with a punched boundary off Ganapathy, and followed it up with a flash over the slips.
The introduction of Yo Mahesh brought the Karnataka batsmen their first challenge, and he troubled Chipli from his first over. His away movement beat Chipli twice, but Yo Mahesh couldn't keep that attack on consistently, bowling six no-balls in four overs.
Dinesh Karthik had to resort to spin, and C Suresh struck for him in his first over. For once, Chipli left a ball alone, but this one was an arm-ball that went straight. But Pawan ensured there was no further loss close to stumps, batting out more than two hours for his 23. With Uthappa not certain to come out to bat tomorrow, Karnataka will need more of such doggedness from Pawan and the rest
Vidyut: Charged down the track, was beaten in the flight, and then by the sharp turn, and was stumped.
Ashwin: Played back to a fullish delivery from Joshi, and missed it.
Ganapathy: Went forward to defend a Joshi delivery, which spun and took the edge.
Suresh Kumar: Given out lbw, but the batsman was clearly disappointed with the decision, protesting that he had hit it.
Yo Mahesh: Late-cut a shortish delivery straight to slip.
Balaji: Shaped to launch a wide, full one into the orbit, but edged it to slip.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo