Karnataka bowlers come up with a spirited display

Maharashtra owes its success story this season largely to the fact that at least two of its top batsmen came good in crunch situations in every match.

And, it was the turn of Chirag Khurana and Ankit Bawne, to don the role of saviours as they helped their team post 272 for five at close of play on the first day of the five-day Ranji Trophy final against Karnataka at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Wednesday.

Earlier, opener Harshad Khadiwale and Vijay Zol fell cheaply. Khadiwale, who looked in a spot of bother initially, was trapped lbw on the backfoot by Karnataka captain and medium-pacer R. Vinay Kumar.

Zol fails

Then, the much-awaited performance from India under-19 captain Vijay Zol failed to come off as the youngster chased a ball which was leaving him on the off-stump only to snick to wicketkeeper C.M. Gautam off left-arm medium-pacer Sreenath Aravind.

Though Maharashtra’s leading run-getter this season, Kedar Jhadav, was looking good, he had only himself to blame for gifting away his wicket as he made an unnecessary attempt to leg-glance an innocuous delivery off medium-pacer Abhimanyu Mithun to be caught down the leg-side.

At lunch, Maharashtra was 95 for three, but fought back well in the second session, thanks to fine batting by Chirag Khurana (64, 145b, 8x4), who scored his second half-century this season.

Cutting out all risks in his batting, he looked solid till he played a sweep stroke off part-time off-spinner Karun Nair which gave the bowler his maiden first-class wicket in his sixth game. The batsman was disappointed as he was trying to sweep a ball pitched on the leg-stump with the bowler bowling round the wicket.

This was a big blow for Maharashtra as it was just about to finish a very satisfying post-lunch session scoring 100 runs in 33 overs.

Then, it was the turn of 21-year-old Ankit Bawne (89 batting, 172b, 10x4), who had hit a century and three fifties this season, to rise to the occasion and he did that in style ensuring that the Karnataka bowlers never dominated the proceedings in the final session.

In a way, his approach typified the philosophy of his coach Surendra Bhave who prefers his boys to take every game session by session. But Rohit Motwani disappointed, playing a careless stroke on the off-stump off Mithun to be caught behind.

From the Karnataka perspective, it was a spirited display from its bowlers whose approach did not falter and they stuck to the task. Importantly, they stayed in the game striking the big blows at regular intervals.

The scores: Maharashtra — 1st innings: Harshad Khadiwale lbw b Vinay 15, Chirag Khurana lbw b Nair 64, Vijay Zol c Gautam b Aravind 5, Kedar Jadhav c Gautam b Mithun 37, Ankit Bawne (batting) 89, Rohit Motwani c Gautam b Mithun 17, Sangram Atitkar (batting) 29; Extras (b-5, lb-6, nb-5): 16; Total (for five wkts. in 90 overs): 272.

Fall of wickets: 1-24, 2-42, 3-90, 4-144, 5-215.

Karnataka bowling: Vinay Kumar 23-5-56-1, Abhimanyu Mithun 19-6-44-2, Sreenath Aravind 23-6-62-1, Manish Pandey 1-0-2-0, Shreyas Gopal 13-0-54-0, Karun Nair 5-1-21-0, Amit Verma 4-0-14-0, Ganesh Satish 2-0-8-0.

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