Maharashtra began brightly when centurion Ganesh Satish was bowled by off-spinner Chirag Khurana off the fifth ball of the day.
But, that proved to be just an aberration. Karnataka, 474 for seven at stumps on the third day, had achieved its first objective of taking the first innings lead in the Ranji Trophy final at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium here on Friday.
Lokesh Rahul (overnight 94) continued to bat with authority, notching up his third hundred of the season (131, 273b, 13x4, 2x6) and in the process completed 1,000 runs. Along with Robin Uthappa (who returned to bat after retiring hurt on 10 on Thursday), the classy Rahul put on 88 runs which pushed Maharashtra on the defensive.Flamboyant Uthappa
This was a phase which also witnessed Uthappa’s usual flamboyance (72, 108b, 10x4, 1x6) as he stepped down the wicket treating the pacers and spinners with disdain.
Even when Maharashtra claimed the second new ball at 275 for one, Rahul and Uthappa batted with freedom, essaying strokes on either side of the wicket.
Uthappa was a trifle lucky on 32, when a leading edge off medium-pacer Anupam Sanklecha saw the ball fly between wicketkeeper Rohit Motwani and first slip.
There was some relief for Maharashtra when medium-pacer Shrikant Mundhe forced the well-set Rahul to snick an away-going delivery to the wicketkeeper.
Just when the sparse gathering was egging him on for a century, Uthappa disappointed when he cut one from Mundhe straight to point.
Samad Fallah then struck a double blow when he removed the in-form C. Gautam and Manish Pandey, who dazzled briefly, in quick succession. However, this did not bring about any radical change in fortunes for a seemingly hopeless Maharashtra camp though it did curtail the run-rate.
Maharashtra desperately needed a special effort from at least one of its bowlers to bring it back into the game. But, even left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar was not equal to the task.
Maharashtra picked up two wickets in the final session, but it was a bit too late.
Maharashtra — 1st innings: 305.
Karnataka — 1st innings: Robin Uthappa c (sub) Tripathi b Mundhe 72, Lokesh Rahul c Motwani b Mundhe 131, Ganesh Satish b Khurana 117, Manish Pandey lbw b Fallah 36, Karun Nair c Motwani b Khurana 44, C.M. Gautam c & b Fallah 7, Amit Verma lbw b Fallah 29, Shreyas Gopal (batting) 9, R. Vinay Kumar (batting) 8; Extras (b-9, lb-3, w-3, nb-6): 21; Total (for seven wkts. in 158 overs): 474.
Fall of wickets: 1-230, 2-318, 3-345, 4-380, 5-394, 6-447, 7-461.
Maharashtra bowling: Samad Fallah 32-8-74-3, Anupam Sanklecha 25-5-66-0, Akshay Darekar 26.5-4-105-0, Shrikant Mundhe 30-4-89-2, Chirag Khurana 39.1-10-110-2, Sangram Atitkar 5-0-18-0.