When play resumes in Hyderabad on Sunday, Karnataka will be just four wickets away from their seventh Ranji Trophy title.
Maharashtra’s hopes of winning the premier domestic tournament in the post-independence era hang by a thread as they don’t have much batting left and are just 62 runs ahead on a wicket that hardly has turn or bounce. If Karnataka win, which looks imminent, they will join Delhi as the second most successful team in Ranji Trophy after Mumbai.
The triumph will also put skipper Vinay Kumar into a distinguished league which comprises Erapalli Prasanna, Brijesh Patel, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Sunil Joshi, all captains of Ranji Trophy winning Karnakata squads.
But earlier on day four, Kedar Jadhav had raised hopes of a Maharashtra comeback by hitting a brilliant century, his sixth of the season and tenth in first class cricket.
But Vinay scalped four, including Jadhav, in the last session to push Maharashtra towards defeat. The haul also took his tally of first class wickets to 300.
Jadhav has played a huge role in his team’s fairytale journey this season. Every time his team was in trouble, Jadhav was there to script a comeback.
Saturday also demanded something extraordinary from this season’s leading run-scorer. And he didn’t let his team down with a performance that is bound to grab eyeballs of the national selectors.
During his 112-run stay, Jadhav took the attack to Karnataka leaving their skipper with no choice but to spread the field in a bid to prevent boundaries. Maharashtra lost early wickets with the team still trailing by over 150 runs. The fall of Zol, who was asked to open, brought Jadhav and Ankit Bawne (61) together. Jadhav was the aggressor as he completed his half century in just 59 balls. The duo scored 110 runs off just 149 balls before tea.
Maharashtra though suffered a jolt in the form of Bawne post-tea as he was stumped while trying to clear long on but Jadhav kept the scoreboard ticking.
Unfortunately, just when it looked that the duo will help set a fighting target, they perished off full-tosses from Vinay.