Madhya Pradesh took the contest into the final day even as Karnataka entertained hopes of forcing an outright victory in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal at the Holkar Stadium here on Sunday.
Karnataka, resuming at 306 for eight, managed a first innings lead of 161 runs with C.M. Gautam making a fluent half century, making most of the 55 runs that his team gathered on Sunday morning.
Responding with an eye on scoring briskly, Madhya Pradesh finished the day at 312 for seven with major contributions coming from Naman Ojha, Abbas Ali and Mohnish Mishra.
Karnataka's approach was positive, looking to achieve an outright result. The roles were distributed among the ranks and it developed into an intense contest in the afternoon when Madhya Pradesh looked for quick runs and Karnataka aimed for wickets.
Fast bowler A. Mithun and left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi did not allow the opposition to dictate by striking at crucial junctures.
Ojha led Madhya Pradesh's improved show in the second innings. He dominated the 84-run opening wicket partnership with Jalaj Saxena, scoring with a flurry of boundaries, eight in all. The emphasis was on unsettling the Karnataka attack and he attacked with gusto before Mithun scalped him.
Mishra, an attacking batsman, was in his element, settling down quickly to scatter the ball to all corners. Six boundaries adorned Mishra's knock which was curt short by an ill-judged run.
Even though Madhya Pradesh saw skipper Devendra Bundela fail for the second time in the match, the host had left-handed Abbas to make a fight out of it.
Abbas came up with some delightful shots on the back-foot. He prevented a middle-order collapse by taking on the bowlers. His decision to attack inspired Harpreet Singh to look for runs too.
Karnataka seemed to have lost grip when Joshi struck to snare his second victim. In the end, the teams had set up a meaningful concluding day on Monday.
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 lbw b Saxena 51, R. Vinay Kumar c Rajan b Saxena 0, Sunil Joshi b Saxena 2, A. Mithun lbw b Saxena 28, S. Arvind (not out) 4; Extras (b-1, nb-9, w-1): 11, Total (in 116.4 overs): 361.
Fall of wickets: 1-66, 2-73, 3-116, 4-155, 5-228, 6-294, 7-294, 8-297, 9-351.
Madhya Pradesh bowling: T. Sudhindra 20-3-63-0, Amit Sharma 27-6-82-1, Anand Rajan 26-4-77-2, Ankit Sharma 20.4-2-83-2, Jalaj Saxena 20-5-43-4, S. Abbas Ali 3-0-12-0.
Madhya Pradesh — 2nd innings: Naman Ojha b Mithun 68, Jalaj Saxena c Mithun b Joshi 22, Mohnish Mishra (run out) 45, Devendra Bundela lbw b Vinay 9, Abbas Ali c Gautam b Mithun 64, Harpreet Singh c Gautam b Joshi 19, Murtaza Ali (run out) 38, Ankit Sharma (batting) 24, T. Sudhindra (batting) 11; Extras (b-5, lb-4, nb-3): 12; Total (for seven wkts in 74 overs): 312.
Fall of wickets: 1-84, 2-140, 3-146, 4-168, 5-224, 6-260, 7-296.
Karnataka bowling: Vinay 16-2-72-1, Mithun 14-4-49-2, Joshi 28-5-93-2, Binny 2-0-17-0, Arvind 11-1-59-0, Satish 3-0-13-0.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy