Karnataka’s day ended considerably better than it had begun. Three batsmen had departed without scoring during a calamitous hour’s play in the morning, but by the close at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday, Uttar Pradesh was left weary, its early cheer ground into the dust.
Robin Uthappa sowed the seeds of recovery with a first hundred for the season before Karun Nair completed a century of his own. R.P. Singh walked off with a hamstring injury in the afternoon and the visitor wheezed along as the score mounted.
At stumps on the first day of this Ranji Trophy quarterfinal, Karnataka was 297 for five. Karun fell leg before in the final over of play for 100, but by that stage he had added 162 runs for the fifth wicket with C.M. Gautam, who was rapidly closing in on three figures himself.
“The pitch was fresh in the morning,” Uthappa said later. “It got easier to bat on as time went on.”
Uttar Pradesh duly inserted Karnataka in to bat and the moisture Uthappa spoke of played its part.
K.L. Rahul edged behind when Ankit Rajpoot squared him up before R. Samarth and Manish Pandey were consumed by Amit Mishra off successive balls.
It left the home side three down for 15 on the board — all runs off Uthappa’s bat.
The 28-year-old carried the team there on in, batting with caution but not at the expense of his shots.
He drove Rajpoot and Mishra through the offside while anything on the pads was put away in a hurry.
In the third over after lunch, he was caught at fine-leg for 58 but R.P. Singh had overstepped. The bowler limped off without delivering another ball and is now a doubt for the remainder of the contest.
Uthappa fell for 100 of Karnataka’s 135, stumped charging Ali Murtaza down the pitch.
The value of his 14th first-class hundred, in only his third game of an injury-plagued campaign, cannot be overstated.
“I’ve worked a lot on my judgement, technique and leaving of the ball in the last two years,” Uthappa said. “It’s coming naturally now.” Thereafter, Karun punched his way out of the rut he had batted himself into.
He was joined by Gautam, a player critical to Karnataka’s fortunes, who breezily swept and pulled as the scoreboard ticked over rapidly.
Second straight 100
Karun completed his second successive hundred after tea, the knock including a fine six over long-off against Murtaza.
His late dismissal dampened Karnataka’s delight, but not by much.
Karnataka — 1st innings: Robin Uthappa st Dwivedi b Murtaza 100, K.L. Rahul c Dwivedi b Rajpoot 0, R. Samarth c & b Mishra 0, Manish Pandey c Kaif b Mishra 0, Karun Nair lbw b Murtaza 100, C.M. Gautam (batting) 89; Extras (lb-5, nb-2, w-1): 8; Total (for five wickets in 89.2 overs): 297.
Fall of wickets: 1-14, 2-15, 3-15, 4-135, 5-297.
Uttar Pradesh bowling: R.P. Singh 10.4-5-19-0, Ankit Rajpoot 18-7-39-1, Amit Mishra 23-5-70-2, Ali Murtaza 19.2-3-87-2, Piyush Chawla 15.2-0-62-0, Prashant Gupta 3-0-15-0.