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Ranji Trophy: Uthappa, Agarwal put Karnataka in driver's seat

Bengaluru: Openers Robin Uthappa and Mayank Agarwal stamped their class by hitting sparkling half-centuries to put Karnataka in the driver's seat against Tamil Nadu in a Group A Ranji Trophy cricket match, here today.

Both Uthappa and Agarwal stole the show with their 76 and 80 as Karnataka reached 247 for four at the close of third day's play, thus gaining a vital 263-run second-innings lead.

Both Uthappa and Agarwal added 163 runs for first wicket to almost push Tamil Nadu out of the game on a sporting Chinnaswamy strip.

Robin Uthappa
Robin Uthappa

Though the Karnataka openers hogged the limelight for shipping the team to a point from where they can only get points on the basis of first innings lead, credit should also be given to Aravind Sreenath, who ran through Tamil Nadu innings.

Tamil Nadu could only manage 274 in reply to Karnataka's first-innings score of 290. Sreenath ended up with figures of four for 52 and hosts' captain Vinay Kumar (2 for 87) and H S Sharath (2 for 22) were proved to be an asset as they were consistent with their line and length, where the Tamil Nadu bowlers extracted help on Day One of the match.

Looking in great form, Uthappa hit ten boundaries in his sparkling knock, before being claimed by Mololan Rangarajan after Baba Aparajith latched on to a catch.

Like Uthappa, Agarwal's innings had its flair and elan. He was attractive to watch, smashing Tamil Nadu bowlers with great aplomb, cracking 12 boundaries and a six.

Karnataka lost two quick wickets after the departure of Uthappa. Agarwal was unfortunately run out off Vijay Shankar's throw and Kunal Kapoor, who had scored a crucial 87 runs knock in Tamil Nadu's first innings, was claimed by Jagannathan Kaushik for seven.

The hosts lost their fourth wicket after Karun Nair, who could manage nine in his first innings, was castled by right-arm medium pacer M Mohammed for 35 runs with seven delightful hits to the fence. He along with Pandey put on 59 runs for the fourth wicket.

Earlier, starting the day on 240 for five, Tamil Nadu captain Ramaswamy Prasanna, along with his partner Vijay Shankar (29 off 87 balls) added another 15 runs to the overnight total, before he was run out for 59 of Stuart Binny's throw.

After the fall of Prasanna, Tamil Nadu lost the plot as they had a good chance to race past Karnataka's first innings score.

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