Karnataka are all but in the Ranji Trophy final after taking a decisive 367-run lead against Uttar Pradesh. On day III of the semi-final, they bowled out the visitors for a paltry 208 to virtually seal the fate of the match with a day to go.
It was always going to be tough for UP after Rahul Dravid hit an unbeaten double hundred and helped his team to a mammoth 575 for seven declared.
Two down overnight, Uttar Pradesh's faint hopes were dashed by young right-arm seamer Abhimanyu Mithun, who ripped through the top order. On the M Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch, where Karnataka batsmen enjoyed a run feast, Uttar Pradesh were all out for one less than what Dravid scored alone.
It was Praveen Kumar and Rohit Prakash, who gave some respectability to the total, hitting half-centuries. Otherwise, a total above 100 was looking distant when two quick wickets on Tuesday morning reduced the visitors to 13 for four. Praveen struck an unbeaten 60-ball 58 with three fours and five mighty sixes. Rohit struck a season-best 55 with seven hits to the fence.
UP’s batting was exposed by the Karnataka bowlers, especially Mithun, who took a five-wicket haul against them in Meerut earlier this season. He struck in the third over as Tanmay Srivastava dragged one back to the stumps playing away from the body. In the next over, Vinay Kumar got UP’s Parvinder Singh for a duck.
Though Mohammed Kaif and Rohit tried their best, stitching together 88 for the fifth wicket, an unlucky Kaif found Mithun's quicker one dislodging the bails with the ball gently rolling for a while after hitting his pads. Mithun deserved a bit of luck for the way he bowled and returned figures of four for 51. He has taken an impressive 38 wickets this season . He was well supported by S. Arvind, who took two for 45.
Praveen provided some entertainment to the crowd, getting after veteran Sunil Joshi, who despite the harsh treatment gave away just 56 runs in 23 overs. It was Praveen's highest score in Ranji Trophy nonetheless.
Karnataka, who are set to make it to the final after 11 years, were 43 for three in their second innings, stretching their overall lead to 410. Piyush Chawla took all three wickets for just nine runs in a five-over spell.