A gutsy unbeaten 89 by middle-order batsman Ankit Bawne and a half century by opener Chirag Khurana helped Maharashtra reach a respectable 272 for five at stumps on the first day of their Ranji Trophy final against Karnataka.
Opting to bat, Maharashtra lost in-form opener Harshad Khadiwale (15) early but Khurana (64) played the role of sheet anchor to perfection for one and half sessions as they were able to conjure three 50 plus partnerships, which helped them put up a decent total on a slow Uppal track.
Bawne’s undefeated knock of 89 was comprised of 10 boundaries and he faced 172 deliveries in the process. Opener Khurana also hit eight fours in his 145-ball knock. India U-19 captain Vijay Zol (5), who was specially permitted by the BCCI to play the final didn’t last long. Kedar Jadhav (37, 6×4) looked fluent during his short stay at the crease but was the victim of a poor decision by umpire Anil Chaudhary.
For Karnataka, medium pacer Abhimanyu Mithun was the most successful bowler taking two for 44 in 19 overs. Skipper R Vinay Kumar (1/56 in 23 overs), Sreenath Aravind (1/62) and Karun Nair (1/21) were the other successful bowlers.
In fact Karnataka started off on a positive note as Vinay got one to shape in after pitching catching Khadiwale plumb in-front. Zol never looked comfortable during his 28-ball stay at the wicket.
Aravind, who came in as first change got one to move away from the left-hander as he offered an easy catch to wicketkeeper CM Gautam.
While Khurana primarily hit boundaries on the on-side, Jadhav scored all around the wicket.
In an over from Vinay, Jadhav hit the Karnataka captain for three successive boundaries. First was a fierce square cut, followed by a forward defensive jab and the last one through the mid-wicket region.
In their third wicket partnership of 48 runs, Jadhav scored 37 before he was adjudged caught behind trying to flick a Mithun delivery. The batsman was clearly unhappy and the television replays showed that the ball brushed the pad-strap before being taken by keeper Gautam.
Coming in at No 5, Bawne was rock-solid as he added 54 runs for the fourth wicket with Khurana.