In big chase, Karnataka fight hard, make a point
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Taking the second new ball as soon as it was available Uttar Pradesh skipper Suresh Raina handed it to his strike bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Operating from the Police Lines end of the ground was proving advantageous for the pacemen on the fourth day because if the ball landed on a cluster of cracks it rose awkwardly or died suddenly.
Opener Robin Uthappa and Karnataka captain Stuart Binny had been clean bowled by Bhuvneshwar and rookie medium-pacer Ankit Rajput respectively with deliveries of the second variety on either side of the lunch.
When Raina gave the ball to Bhuvneshwar for the third and last time in the day, Karnataka had four wickets in hand but only 11 overs remained to be bowled before stumps. An outright victory would have vindicated the hosts' decision to pile on a lead of 445 and delay the declaration till the morning of the fourth and final day.
By tea Uttar Pradesh had made inroads into the Karnataka innings that was placed at 143 for two at the lunch break. The 122-run partnership between Manish Pandey and Ganesh Satish for the third wicket was broken when the former misjudged a single and was run-out. Satish had edged an outswinger from Bhuvneshwar to Raina, who didn't spill the chance at third slip. Then Amit Verma, the dogged left-hander, didn't make his ground while pushing for a single just after tea and only wicket-keeper CM Gautam was the last recognised batsman left.
But Uttar Pradesh were up against the hour-glass when Bhuvneshwar got first use of the second new ball.
Gautam had farmed the strike well yet off-spinner K Gowtham found himself facing the first over of what would be Bhuvneshwar's last spell.
The task before the 21-year-old medium-pacer was clear – pierce open the Karnataka lower-order. Bhuvneshwar, bowling from the Police Lines end was successful again. In the second ball of the 81st over Bhuvneshwar bowled Gowtham and two balls later a similar delivery dismissed medium-pacer Ronit More. Both batsmen crouched as the ball skidded and crashed into the base of the stumps. Two wickets in a span of four balls and Uttar Pradesh had reason to believe that they were favourites. The match had come alive as Karnataka fell from 245 for six to 249 for eight.