When off-spinner Vaishak Chandran clean bowled Karnataka opener R.Samarth’s defence in the first over, the signs were ominous for the visitor. But skipper Mayank Agarwal’s classy unbeaten 87 put his side in control at the end of the second day’s play in the Ranji Trophy match against Kerala at the KCA-St.Xavier’s College ground on Wednesday.
Karnataka, in reply to Kerala’s first innings total of 342, recovered from the early loss of its opener to score 137 for two at stumps. Mayank looked comfortable against spinners and medium pacers. He resurrected the innings with Devdutt Padikkal (29), adding 89 runs for the second wicket, which wrested the initiative from Kerala.
Mayank attacked the spinners and showed intent by lofting Vaisakh through long-on for a six. Mayank repeated the shots against both Jalaj Saxena and Sijomon Joseph as runs came at a fast clip in the second session.
The hardworking M.D. Nidheesh broke through soon after tea by breaching Dev Padikkal’s defence. Nikin Jose struggled but hung around with Agarwal to add an unbroken 46 runs for the third wicket.
Karnataka bowlers didn’t find much swing in the morning, and the overnight pair of Sachin Baby and Jalaj survived the opening hour without much difficulty. However, Baby’s watchful innings ended when he edged Gopal to Manish Pandey in the cordon.
Jalaj progressed to his first half-century of the season by pulling Shreyas Gopal for a boundary. He added 37 runs for the eighth wicket with captain Sijomon (24). V. Koushik knocked out Jalaj’s (57) middle stump to earn his well-deserved fifth wicket. The last wicket pair of Nidheesh (22) and Vaisakh (12 not out) added 25 runs to frustrate the visitor.