Former champions Uttar Pradesh's Ranji Trophy hopes virtually ended on Friday after Karnataka took a 97-run first innings lead and posted a healthy 178/2 in their second innings, stretching their overall lead to 275.
Both Baroda (20 pts) and Haryana (17 pts) besides group leader Karnataka (20 pts) have already made it to the knockouts. Now, they can only hope for a miracle on the last day of their four-day Elite Group B match on Saturday, that is if Karnataka lose the match, which looks highly unlikely.
This is for the second time since winning their maiden Ranji Trophy title in 2005-06 that UP have squandered a good start to the season to be on the verge of missing a knockout berth. In 2006-07, they managed to avoid relegation, but thereafter, played two finals before losing to Karnataka in the semi-finals last season.
Things didn't change much for the hosts on Friday even after Piyush Chawla slammed his maiden Ranji hundred, scoring 104 with 18 fours and a six to help UP avoid follow-on after resuming on the overnight 163/5.
Chawla along with Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (62, 158b, 9x4) stitched together 118 runs for the sixth wicket. At one point, UP looked set to take the first innings lead but wickets fell at regular intervals. The innings ended at 319 soon after lunch. Thereafter, it was fun time for Karnataka batsmen thanks to a sloppy miss by stumper Mohd Amir Khan. Robin Uthappa survived a caught-behind chance off the very second ball and struck an 83-ball 67 containing 11 fours. Fellow opener KB Pawan hit 50 in 87 balls with 11 fours, the pair raising 128 runs for the opening wicket.
Karnataka 416 and 178/2 (R Uthappa 67, KB Pawan 50, R Chaudhary 2/45) vs UP 319 (P Chawla 104, MA Khan 39)