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Karnataka take big lead

Hyderabad: Karnataka are well on course to win the Ranji Trophy title after extending their overall lead to 169 runs at stumps on the third day of their summit clash against Maharashtra, here on Friday.

Starting the day at 230 for no loss, Karnataka were successful in their plan to bat Maharashtra out of the contest, as they finished the day at 474 for seven in reply to Maharashtra’s first innings score of 305.

While No.3 batsman Ganesh Satish (117) was out on his overnight score, opener KL Rahul (131) completed a well-deserved century while veteran Robin Uthappa (72) also hit a stroke-filled half-century to consolidate Karnataka’s grip on the proceedings.

While Maharashtra bowlers put up a far better show on the third day taking seven wickets with further addition of 244 runs, the four dropped catches during the second day will certainly come back to haunt them.

Left-arm paceman Samad Fallah was pick of the bowlers taking three for 74 while medium pacer Shrikant Mundhe also got a couple of wickets for 89 runs.

Off-spinner Chirag Khurana got two wickets for 110 runs in 39.1 overs.

The day started with centurion Satish being dismissed in the very first over when he missed trying to defend a Khurana straighter on the backfoot. His 212-ball knock contained 16 boundaries. The 21-year-old Rahul, who was six short of his fourth first-class century, got to the coveted landmark when he swept a Khurana delivery to the mid-wicket boundary. For someone, who is considered to be a national prospect, a hundred in a Ranji Trophy final will do his confidence a world of good.

After the fall of Satish’s wicket, veteran Uthappa came back to bat after having retired hurt with a bruised elbow off Fallah’s bowling. He announced his arrival with a sweep towards deep fine leg and a six over long on off Khurana’s bowling.

Uthappa’s 108-ball innings had 10 boundaries and a six. He was harsh on the spinners as both Khurana and left-arm spinner Akashya Darekar were hit down the ground for straight boundaries. He also punished the pacers Mundhe and Anupam Sanklecha on anything that was bowled on his pads.