A combination of dropped catches, questionable bowling choices and unfathomable field placements helped Baroda claw their way back into a game in which they conceded a massive 148-run first innings lead. At stumps, the visitors were 208/5 in 67 overs – 60 runs ahead. Although Baroda aren’t out of the woods yet, Karnataka perhaps missed a trick or two in shutting them out.
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Baroda owe their rise to a chancy but gritty 90 (162b, 8×4, 3×6) from opener Ahmadnoor Pathan and a half-century from Deepak Hooda (50, 71, 3×4, 2×6). Their third-wicket stand of 94 helped the team wipe out the first innings deficit and kindle hope of turning things around. A lot would depend – as has become the norm this season – on Karnataka’s bowlers on Friday morning.
Four catches, two of them straightforward, could have made for a different story had they been taken. Pathan was offered lifelines twice while on 55 and 86. He was first dropped by skipper Karun Nair at first slip off Pavan Deshpande and again by wicketkeeper Sharath Srinivas off Prasidh Krishna. Hooda, on 27, was grassed by D Nischal at short-leg off K Gowtham while Karun again missed an offering from Abhimanyu Rajput (31 n.o) when on 5.
Karnataka weren’t at the challenging best. The spinners didn’t have the right fields set while leggie Shreyas Gopal was overlooked for much of the day and brought in very late in the final session. He bowled a mere five overs, while off-spinner Gowtham in contrast, was stretched for 27 overs.
After a frustrating 20 overs, the post lunch session brought some relief to the home camp. Prasidh Krishna (2/29), who bowled short spells, drew first blood in his second spell when Kedar Devdhar cut to Pravin Dubey at backward point. Vishnu Solanki followed his opening partner after being trapped in front by Gowtham.
For about 20 overs after that, it was Pathan and Hooda who held sway. They targeted Gowtham, milking five maximums off his bowling. In the 28th over, Hooda whacked two sixes over the midwicket region. Then Ronit More stepped in, sending Hooda’s off stump cartwheeling with a delivery which shaped back into the batsman. Devdutt Padikkal took a blinder at gully to send back Pandya while Pathan missed out on a century with a faint edge to Sharath off Prasidh.
That said, Baroda, who were bowled out for a paltry 85 in their first innings, were the gainers on this day. They could still make a fist of it if they keep their wits about them and get a decent score on board. Karnataka have the edge, but their brittle batting order is their Achilles heel.
In the morning, Abhimanyu Mithun was hell-bent on avoiding just that as he stretched the overnight score to well over the 100-run mark. The 30-year-old struck an entertaining 46-ball-40 (6×4) and put together a 62-run, eighth-wicket stand with Sharath (34, 92b, 6×4).
Mithun took a liking to pacer Sopariya (5/83), clobbering him for a straight boundary and an edged four in the same over. But Sopariya had the last laugh when he ended his 71-minute stay, snaring him just after Mithun had smashed three consecutive boundaries.
Baroda (I Innings): 85
Karnataka (I Innings, o/n 165/7): Sharath c & b Pandya 34, Mithun c Pandya b Sopariya 40, More c Kohli b Sopariya 8, Prasidh (not out) 10. Extras (NB-1, W-4, B-1) 6 Extras (NB-1, W-4, B-1) 6. Total (all out; 72.5 overs) 233.
Fall of wickets:8-204, 9-212.
Bowling: B Pathan 3.5-1-10-0, Sopariya 24.5-7-83-5, Rajput 7.1-3-17-2, Bhatt 24-4-74-2, Solanki 8-0-30-0, K Pandya 5-1-18-1.
Baroda (II Innings): Devdhar c Dubey b Prasidh 15, Ahmadnoor c Sharath b Prasidh 90, Solanki lbw Gowtham 2, Hooda b More 50, K Pandya c Padikkal b More 5, Rajput (batting) 31, Kohli (batting) 4. Extras (NB-4, B-4, LB-3) 11. Total (for 5 wkts; 67 overs) 208.
Fall of wickets: 1-45, 2-48, 3-142, 4-159, 5-188.
Bowling: Mithun 9-2-30-0, Prasidh 13-3-29-2, Gowtham 27-4-88-1, More 11-3-36-2, Deshpande 2-0-6-0, Shreyas 5-1-12-0.