Special Correspondent

Powerful batting by Niraj Patel and Azharuddin Bilakhia

Ahmedabad: Gujarat is all set to deal Karnataka its first defeat in the current Ranji Trophy championship. Dominating the proceedings for the third day running in their Elite Group 'A' league match at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, the home team, set a fourth innings target of 143 faced setbacks on Thursday before it recovered through a powerful exhibition of batting display by two of its rising stars Niraj Patel, a local lad and Azharuddin Bilakhia, from the industrial district of Vapi, to close the day at 106 for three.

Gujarat is close to achieving its primary aim of staying in the Elite Group. And despite being in a precarious position, Karnataka might well make it to semifinals should the matches in Chennai and Kolkata not culminate in a clear result.

Winning four points from this match will take Gujarat's tally to 10 and Karnataka will stay put at 12.

Costly miss

The story could well have been different had Robin Uhtappa latched on to an edge at second slip off the bat of Bilakhia, when he was on 6 in Gujarat's 20. On Wednesday he had let off Ashraf Makda who then thrashed the Karnataka bowling and established Gujarat's first innings lead of 84.

On Thursday, Patel (59 batting, 85b, 10x4s, 1x6) and Bilakhia (36, 75b, 5x4s) put on 88 for the third wicket. Crisp and booming shots in front of the wicket marked their batting effort.

Earlier in the day, Uthappa and Bharat Chipli made a promising start, but Siddharth Trivedi wrested the initiative. He dismissed Uthappa (56, 81b, 9x4s) first and then Sujith Somasunder.

The scores:

Karnataka - 1st innings: 163

Gujarat - 1st innings: 247

Karnataka - 2nd innings: R. Uthappa c Damani b Trivedi 56, B. Rowland c Modi b Trivedi 7, B. Chipli c N. Patel b Majmudar 67, S. Somasunder c Modi b Trivedi 0, S. Shinde c Modi b Majmudar 20, T. Naidu c Modi b Makda 13, B. Akhil (not out) 41, S. Binny c Modi b Trivedi 10, S. Joshi c Brahmabhatt b Watekar 3, R. Vinaykumar C & b Damani 3, N. C. Aiyappa lbw b Aiyappa 0; Extras (lb-1, nb-4, w-1) 6; Total (in 81 overs) 226.

Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-92, 3-102, 4-139, 5-156, 6-171, 7-190, 8-203, 9-216.

Gujarat bowling: Trivedi 23-4-57-4, Makda 20-3-75-1, Majmudar 21-3-57-2, Watekar 14-4-22-1, Damani 3-0-14-2.

Gujarat - 2nd innings: A. Christian c Uhtappa b Aiyappa 1, K. Damani lbw b Vinaykumar 2, N. Patel batting 59, A. Bilakhia b Aiyappa 36, M. Parmar batting 5; Extras (lb-1, nb-2) 3; Total (for three wkts in 31 overs) 106.

Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-3, 3-91.

Karnataka bowling: Vinaykumar 8-2-21-1, Aiyappa 10-0-40-2, Akhil 4-1-13-0, Joshi 4-0-12-0, Binny 5-0-19-0.

Other scores: Elite group: At Mumbai: Maharashtra 213 and 187 in 55.5 overs (Anupam Sanchlekar 45, Ramesh Powar five for 43) vs Mumbai 175 and 155 for seven in 60 overs (Amol Muzumdar 46).

At Kolkata: Railways 259 and 140 for two in 40 overs (Amit Phagnis 76 batting) vs Bengal 278 in 110.3 overs (Arindam Das 70, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala 55, J.P. Yadav four for 53, Harvinder Singh four for 75).

At Chennai: Tamil Nadu 481 for six decl. vs Delhi 366 for eight in 122 overs (M. Manhas 89, Rajat Bhatia 152 batting).

At Anantpur: Uttar Pradesh 365 vs. Andhra 208 in 69.1 overs (P. Kumar five for 73) and 292 for nine in 70 overs (A.T. Rayadu 49, K.S. Sahabuddin 84, A.S.K. Verma 58, P. Kumar four for 81).

At Vadodara: Baroda 229 and 272 in 81 overs (Connor Williams 86, Kiran Powar 94, Pragyan Ojha seven for 126) beat Hyderabad 131 and 150 in 44.2 overs (Yusuf Pathan five for 30). Points: Baroda 4, Hyd 0.

At New Delhi: Services 241 and 182 for three in 69 overs (M.P. Reddy 82 batting) vs. Haryana 282 in 99.3 overs (S. Rana 59, S. Verma 74).

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