Madhya Pradesh persevered hard but Karnataka proved equally determined to call the shots on a day of engaging cricket at the Holkar Stadium here on Saturday.

At the end of the second day of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal, Karnataka, resuming at 35 for no loss, was 306 for eight after left-handed Amit Verma compiled an attractive 85.

After the bowlers, it was the turn of the batsmen to serve Karnataka with distinction even though they were guilty of not building on the decent starts. The conditions favoured the batsmen and Karnataka made the most of them to carve a lead of 106 runs and look at forcing an outright win.

Exquisite strokes

There were plenty of strokes to be relished for the sparse audience that also saw Karnataka drift away in the last session, losing the wickets of Verma and R. Vinay Kumar to rash shots and Sunil Joshi to a good ball.

Robin Uthappa, K B. Pawan, Manish Pandey, Amit and Stuart Binny contributed to Karnataka's healthy response but their focus remained on playing their natural game even if it meant losing the wicket after being well set.

Uthappa, who resumed with the same flair that marked his batting on Friday evening, gifted his wicket to a lax drive that flew to point.

Uthappa hit five fours in his 83-ball knock of 44. Ganesh Satish played all over an incoming ball from Anand Rajan and suddenly Madhya Pradesh discovered its spirits.

Karnataka was now guided by the young Pandey, who played some exquisite drives against the seamers.

His 112-ball 49 contained six fours and a six.

Binny (38 with seven fours) was composed in his essay until his first error cost him his wicket but Verma remained undeterred at the other end. Verma's temperament complemented his penchant to pick the loose deliveries as he grew in strength, pacing his innings astutely to frustrate the bowlers.

Verma, however, escaped at 84 when he was grassed at gully by substitute Murtaza Ali off Amit Sharma.

Not learning a lesson, Verma played an uncharacteristic heave and lost his wicket two balls later for a well-constructed 85 off 165 balls with 14 fours.

Jalaj Saxena picked up three wickets for MP.

The scores: Madhya Pradesh —1st innings: 200.

Karnataka — 1st innings: Robin Uthappa c Ankit b Rajan 44, K.B. Pawan (run out) 49, Ganesh Satish b Rajan 0, Manish Pandey b Amit 49, Amit Verma c Sudhindra b Saxena 85, Stuart Binny lbw b Ankit 38, C.M. Gautam (batting) 29, R. Vinay Kumar c Rajan b Saxena 0, Sunil Joshi b Saxena 2, A. Mithun (batting) 0, Extras (b-1, nb-8, w-1)): 10, Total (for eight wkts. in 104overs): 306.

Fall of wickets: 1-66, 2-73, 3-116, 4-155, 5-228, 6-294, 7-294, 8-297.

Madhya Pradesh bowling: T. Sudhindra 20-3-63-0, Amit Sharma 24-6-69-1, Anand Rajan 21-4-52-2, Ankit Sharma 19-2-78-1, Jalaj Saxena 17-5-31-3, S. Abbas Ali 3-0-12-0.

Keywords: Ranji Trophy

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