It seems that even before the start of the Karnataka second innings, Rahul Dravid had told his batsmen to play their shots with a free hand. Whatever the instructions, but all the five top-order batsmen scored briskly to put their side on the verge of an outright win.
The batsmen, including Dravid, were on fire, smashing cracking fours and sixes all over the Bhamashah Cricket Stadium, before declaring their second innings on 311 for 5 and managing a solid 437-run lead against hosts Uttar Pradesh.
UP were 30 for 1 in their second essay when stumps were drawn on the penultimate day of the four-day tie on Thursday.
Dravid (51, 44b, 6x4, 1x6) declared the innings in grand style, hitting a mighty six off Praveen Gupta to complete his second half-century of the match.
But it was the big-hitting Manish Pandey who stole the limelight. He started by cracking a four off Piyush Chawla and in the bowler’s 13th over he smashed 23 runs, including four boundaries and a six. But Chawla finally accounted for him, as, after being smashed for yet another six in his subsequent over, he had Pandey trapped leg before.
Earlier, opener KB Pawan, hit a swashbuckling 78, while Uthappa (56) cracked 10 boundaries in his 82-ball innings.
There was no relief for the UP bowlers after their departure as Amit Verma (35, 64b, 4x6) and B. Akhil (33, 24b, 3x4, 2x6) kept the scoreboard moving at a brisk pace.
The hard-hitting visitors left skipper Mohd Kaif running out of ideas. Chawla snapped two wickets at the cost of 96 runs from 17 overs. UP didn’t have a good start to their second innings as Abhimanyu Mithun scalped Tanmay Srivastava (13) in the sixth over. S. Shukla (10) and R. Shukla (7) negotiated the remaining five overs.