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Karnataka wrests initiative

By Our Sports Reporter

BANGALORE, DEC. 6. Seamer N.C. Aiyappa's late-evening burst that prised out Y. Venugopal Rao helped Karnataka wrest the initiative against Andhra in the Ranji Trophy Elite Division Group A match in progress at the RSI Ground here on Monday.

At the third day's close, Andhra scored 188 for six in its second innings after Karnataka scored 328 and gained a 91-run first innings lead. Andhra is now 97 runs ahead but with just four wickets in hand, will have to bat with gumption on the morrow to stymie Karnataka's march towards victory.

Decisive moment

The day's decisive moment occurred late in the day as N.C. Aiyappa steamed in from the Cubbon Road End and with a ball that bounced disconcertingly, beat Venugopal Rao. The Karnataka players appealed in unison and umpire B.S. Bhatti declared Venugopal Rao out though the ball had sailed above his withdrawn bat and perhaps had brushed his hand on its way to wicket keeper Thilak Naidu. Venugopal Rao, until then was the key to Andhra's revival and his 64 (146b, 11 x 4) spelt promise to M.S.K. Prasad's men but with his dismissal that left the score reading 180 for six, Karnataka had tightened its grip on the game. A fuming Venugopal Rao did vent his ire as he walked back to the pavilion and at close it was left to Shahabuddin and R.V.Ch. Prasad to stay firm and help Andhra stretch its second innings into the final day on the morrow.

False start

Earlier, the Andhra innings suffered a false start as seamers Vinay Kumar and Aiyappa scalped openers Amit Pathak and L.N. Prasad Reddy and the score stumbled at 45 for two in 18.5 overs. A.S.K. Verma and Venugopal Rao then stepped in with a 91-run third-wicket partnership that kept the host bowlers at bay. Verma (58, 128b, 8 x 4), after a few miscued shots that eluded fielders at slips, eased into a lofted shot against Sunil Joshi and played the support cast to Venugopal Rao with assurance.

Venugopal Rao drove and cut the seamers with aplomb. Later he upper cut Vinay Kumar with a touch of disdain and waded into Joshi with shots over long-on. However the veteran left-arm spinner had his moment as he claimed his 300th Ranji wicket, castling A.S.K. Verma, who shaped for a cut. Joshi did an encore as he trapped A.G. Pradeep and with Ganesh pouching a smart reflex catch in his follow-through that dismissed Y. Gnaneshwar Rao, Andhra was left pinning all its hopes on Venugopal Rao until Aiyappa undid the visitor's plans.

Earlier in the morning, Andhra seamer Shahabuddin (four for 51) ensured that Karnataka was grounded at 328.

The scores:

Andhra — 1st innings: 237

Karnataka — 1st innings: Robin Uthappa (run out) 6, Barrington Rowland b Y. Venugopal Rao 37, Sujith Somasundar lbw Shahabuddin 32, V.S. Thilak Naidu lbw Md. Faiq 120, Vijay Bharadwaj lbw A.S.K. Verma 33, Stuart Binny c A.G. Pradeep b Krishna 26, C. Raghu lbw Shahabuddin 13, Sunil Joshi c Prasad Reddy b Shahabuddin 5, Dodda Ganesh (not out) 32, Vinay Kumar st Prasad Reddy b Y. Venugopal Rao 9, N.C. Aiyappa c Amit Pathak b Shahabuddin 5, Extras 10 (b-2, lb-6, nb-2) 10, Total 328.

Fall of wickets: 1-23, 2-73, 3-87, 4-181, 5-233, 6-276, 7-276, 8-289, 9-311.

Andhra bowling: Shahabuddin 31.1-11-51-4, Kalyan Krishna 23-7-66-1 (nb-1), Mohd. Faiq 23-7-83-1, R.V.Ch. Prasad 10-2-28-0, Y. Venugopal Rao 20-2-66-2, A.S.K. Verma 4-0-15-1 (nb-1), Y. Gnaneshwar Rao 2-0-11-0.

Andhra — 2nd innings: Amit Pathak b Vinay Kumar 10, L.N. Prasad Reddy c Thilak Naidu b N.C. Aiyappa 16, A.S.K. Verma b Sunil Joshi 58, Y. Venugopal Rao c Thilak Naidu b N.C. Aiyappa 64, A.G. Pradeep lbw Joshi 0, Y. Gnaneshwar Rao c & b Dodda Ganesh 6, Shahabuddin (batting) 15, R.V. Ch. Prasad (batting) 4, Extras (b-12, nb-2, w-1) 15, Total (for six wkts.) 188.

Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-45, 3-136, 4-140, 5-165, 6-180.

Karnataka bowling: Dodda Ganesh 18-3-61-1, Vinay Kumar 12-3-43-1, Sunil Joshi 21-7-35-2, N.C. Aiyappa 16-6-25-2, Stuart Binny 3-0-12-0.

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