Karnataka on top despite Nayar's ton

Mumbai trail Karnataka by 281 runs as resilient Abhishek Nayar once again digs deep to avoid follow-on

Late strikes from seamers Abhimanyu Mithun (2-79), R Vinay Kumar (3-79) and Stuart Binny (3-27) helped Karnataka tightened their grip over Mumbai on the third day of their Ranji Trophy encounter here at the Brabourne Stadium on Saturday.

Mumbai's Abhishek Nayar celebrates his century against Karnataka in
a Ranji Trophy match at the Brabourne Stadium on Saturday

While the pitch continued to offer nothing for the bowlers, the visitors stuck to a plan on a day when Abhishek Nayar (137 retired hurt) battled through cramps before bowing out. Mumbai drew stumps at 354-8, still trailing Karnataka by 281 runs, and needing a further 131 to avoid the follow-on. Mumbai coach Sulakshan Kulkarni was evidently disappointed. "We lost three wickets quite early. We should have finished the day on five down or something. The shot selection was very poor," he said.

Kulkarni confirmed that Nayar would turn out to bat on Sunday: "It was the same incident as the last match (against Rajasthan). He was suffering with cramps. He will bat today." The day began with the focus purely on Rohit Sharma (64) and Ajinkya Rahane (24) -- the local lads vying for a maiden Test cap -- in the third and final Test against West Indies starting Tuesday. Both perished after playing loose strokes, leaving the onus on the ever resilient Nayar.

Rahane fell very early in the day -- caught at gully off Vinay Kumar. Rohit struck two majestic boundaries when Vinay Kumar returned to the attack in the 42nd over, as his third-wicket partnership with Nayar continued to flourish at close to a run-a-ball. In the next over, just five minutes before lunch, Rohit attempted a half-hearted pull shot off Mithun that caused him to drag the ball back on to his stumps. Karnataka were elated at this stage but Nayar continued to battle.

Nayar, evidently in severe pain, went down on his knees on several occasions. He received support from Ramesh Powar and Iqbal Abdulla that shrugged off the likelihood of a Mumbai collapse. However, soon after Nayar retired hurt, Binny ran through the Mumbai tail, removing Powar and Dhawal Kulkarni in the dying moments of the day. Omkar Gurav was unbeaten on 20 and will be joined by Nayar for the last-wicket on Sunday.

Binny, who also removed Suryakumar Yadav, was glad that his plan worked out. "The key word was to frustrate their batsmen. So, I just continued to bowl outside the off-stump with the odd ball to Ramesh (Powar) coming back in. It was basically just about bowling on one side of the area," he said.

>> Delhi 212 and 233-5 (M Kumar 58) Tamil Nadu 306 (A Mukund 99, R Prasanna 59; A Nehra 2-70).
>> Rajasthan 521-8 decl, Railways 274-4 (S Shukla 87, S Bangar 79; V Yadav 3-64).
>> Orissa 482, Uttar Pradesh 287-3 (T Srivastava 115, Mohd Kaif 88).
>> Saurashtra 542, Punjab 278 (M Singh 85; J Unadkat 6-87)

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