Getting wickets was hard work on the slow Chinnaswamy turner but Tamil Nadu did just that to come within one good bowling day of taking six points from their Group B match against Karnataka. Led by the persistence of their left-arm spinner, C Suresh, they inflicted a follow-on on Karnataka, who need 216 more to make Tamil Nadu bat, and all but ensured a minimum of three points.
C Raghu, Ganesh Satish and Thilak Naidu provided some resistance in the middle order but didn't threaten Tamil Nadu's dominance. The game never looked in danger of slipping out of the visitors' grasp, which owed in part to the accurate bowling by their spinners - Suresh and R Ashwin - who kept one end tied up and forced the batsmen go for extravagant strokes.
Karnataka batting's misery, which began with captain Robin Uthappa's inability to open on Tuesday - he was hospitalised with a viral fever - reached its height with his golden duck. A visibly weak Uthappa came in to bat at No. 7 today but was given out lbw first ball to Ashwin, a decision he was clearly not amused by - the ball had been angled into his pads and Uthappa pulled out of the shot. By the time he came in, though, Karnataka were already scrapping for one point - at 227 for 5, still 304 behind Tamil Nadu and needing 155 to avoid the follow-on.
The day began with KB Pawan unable to carry on the solid, if slow, start he had made on Tuesday. In the fifth over, after scoring 25 in almost two-and-a-half hours, he tried to pull a wide bouncer from L Balaji and top-edged it to the wicketkeeper. Balaji started to get the old ball to hold its line, something he couldn't managed with the new one, and repeatedly troubled new batsman C Raghu. Satish looked more comfortable, and countered by hitting Balaji for two boundaries in over, which resulted in a bowling change.
Raghu soon grew in confidence and threatened, with Satish, to put up fight. The problem with their partnership, which lasted 25 overs, was that the runs didn't flow, the strike didn't rotate, and Satish paid the ultimate price. Suresh, taking over from Balaji, who had given away 26 runs in ten overs, got Satish to play in front of his body, and edge the ball to S Badrinath. Satish, playing his second game, fell six short of getting a maiden fifty.
Minutes before lunch, Balaji struck again to get another rookie, Manish Pandey. He'd started with a boundary first ball, but was suspect to Balaji's away movement. Dinesh Karthik dropped him when he was on 4, but Balaji got him with a slower legcutter in his next over.
Thilak Naidu, the aggressive wicketkeeper-batsman, came out swinging, and heralded the only period in the innings when scoring didn't stagnate. He started with a flicked boundary first ball, and late-cut Satish with finesse for two boundaries. When Naidu came in to bat, Raghu had already scored 43, but by the time Naidu reached 40, he had only 60. Once Naidu fell lbw to Ashwin, the floodgates opened. Uthappa fell next ball, Sunil Raju holed out to mid-on, and three wickets had fallen at the same score in the space of 4.3 overs.
Raghu, who kept his end up, ran out of company, and despite a 35-run partnership with Vinay Kumar, Karnataka fell well short of avoiding the follow-on. Raghu got to his 11th half-century, and was the ninth man out. The four-wicket haul was a fair reward for Suresh, who bowled 27 relentless overs for 58. That his fourth wicket came in the 100th over put paid to the chances of getting a second five-for in a row - he had taken five in the first innings against Maharashtra too. In Indian domestic cricket, there is a rule to mandatorily take the new ball after 100 overs, and Balaji finished off the innings by trapping Sunil Joshi lbw in the first over with the new ball.
Karnataka had a tricky 14-over period to negotiate before stumps, which they did without incident. They were helped by frequent bowling changes from Tamil Nadu, who opened with Raghu's offspin, and tried five bowlers before stumps.
Satish: played forward to one from Suresh, which turned and took a thin edge to slip
Pandey: was flummoxed by a slower leg-cutter from Balaji, and given out lbw
Naidu: padded up to Ashwin, and was given lbw
Uthappa: pulled out of a shot, seeing the ball angled down leg, and was given lbw again. Was not happy with the decision
Raju: tried to break the shackes and hit Ashwin in the air, but could not clear mid-on
Vinay Kumar: lobbed an easy catch to Balaji at midwicket
Raghu: looked to cut Suresh, but the ball was too full, and took the edge to slip
Joshi: missed a straight delivery, and given out lbw to Balaji
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo