RATNAGIRI: Maharashtra were up against the wall going into the fourth and final day of the Ranji Trophy Super League tie against Karnataka at the Chatrapati Shivaji Stadium here, and a lot rested on the shoulders of skipper Venugopal Rao and opener Harshad Khadiwale to pull something out of the ordinary in order to force a draw.
Well it didn’t happen eventually as the hosts were bowled out for a paltry 140, handing Karnataka victory by an innings and 129 runs.
With his tails up after the bodacious hat trick on day four, Vinay Kumar was in ominous form. Bowling wicket-to-wicket, he moved the ball both ways and stifled the scoring opportunities of the home side.
He produced a gem of a delivery that climbed on Khadiwale with the latter fending it to Joshi who took a facile catch at slip. Yogesh Takawale paired up with skipper Venugopal Rao and took the attack to the opposition with some sizzling stroke-play in their 68-run fifth wicket stand. Takawale was in a belligerent mood, clunking Aiyappa through the cover region thrice in one over before sending one from Sunil Joshi crashing into the sightscreen for the maximum.
But Joshi, who enjoyed bowling on the fourth day track, which had a bit of bite in it, exacted sweet revenge on Takawale.
The batsman stepped out to the bowler and when he realised he was beaten in flight, played a defensive prod only to pop up a catch to Pawan at forward short-leg. Dhruv Mohan’s ugly swing of the bat saw him fall to Joshi for a duck.
Wicketkeeper Sunil Jadhav capped off a forgettable debut, departing for 4 to Joshi after the ball struck the front pad and umpire raising index finger.
Skipper Venugopal Rao was at his strokeful best and soon reached his fifty even as wickets tumbled at the other end. He greeted Vinay Kumar’s return to the attack for his second spell with a vintage flick shot to the mid-wicket boundary. But Vinay hammered the final nail in the coffin, dislodging the State skipper when he essayed an on-drive and was pouched by Raghu inside the 30-yard circle for 56.
It was Vinay’s fifth scalp and the win became a mere formality when he got rid of Aditya Dole to finish with career-best returns of 6-38 and a dream match-haul of 10-104. His previous best of 5-22 also came against Maharashtra in 2005.
With defeat looming large, State took lunch at 140 for 9 with tail-enders Wahid Sayyed and Samad Fallah at the crease. It just took one ball after lunch to bring up victory celebrations for Karnataka. Sayyed facing up Joshi, attempted a wild heave and holed out to Chipli at mid-on to hasten the doom of Maharashtra.
Delhi and Uttar Pradesh finished their league engagements with outright wins over Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad respectively to top their groups. Saurashtra and Baroda duly played out draws in their final games to end up second in their groups. The top two teams in each group ended tied at the same number of points, and were separated on the basis of outright wins and better quotient. UP had won one more match than Baorda, while Delhi had a better quotient than Saurashtra. In the semi-finals, UP will face Saurahstra in Vadodara while Delhi will take on Baroda in Indore.