Bengaluru: Karnataka almost did the unimaginable, committing hara-kiri in pursuit of a modest target before the wise and calm presence of Stuart Binny saw them pull off a nerve-wracking threewicket victory, their second on the trot, against Haryana on Monday.
On a turf which has aided the fast bowlers on all four days, Harshal Patel put the fear of god in the Karnataka camp picking all the three wickets that fell in the morning in the space of 5.5 overs.
But Binny (31, 30b, 4x4) held fort at one end before guiding his panic-stricken team to 97 for six in the 11th over of the morning to fetch six points and vault too second in the table in Group A with 19 points from five games behind leaders Mumbai who have 20 from the same while Punjab and Gujarat follow in that order with 17 points.
Resuming at 62 for 4 and needing only 35 runs on the final morning at the Bansi Lal cricket stadium at Rohtak, Karnataka seemed well on course as Binny batted sensibly while milking the runs but skipper C.M. Gautam, overnight on five, remained stuck in his shell before Patel dismissed him in the fifth over of the day.
At 82 for five, with just 15 needed, there wasn’t any cause of any alarm. Or so one thought.
Then again, as has been their performance all through the season, the middle order showed its fragility as Ganesh Satish was trapped lbw by Patel without scoring as did the Abrar Kazi, who was snapped up by wicketkeeper Nitin Saini, also for nought. With the visitors slipping to 86 for seven, Haryana sensed an outside chance of an upset as Patel scented blood. Fortunately for Karnataka, Binny didn’t blink under the pressure and though Abhimanyu Mithun didn’t get off the mark, he stayed put at one end as Binny overhauled the target in his familiar untroubled fashion.
Having said that, Karnataka would probably have shot themselves in the foot if the target was 30-odd more given the familiarity with which their middle and lower order has crumbled at the first sight of pressure.
Patel came away with a match haul of 11-96 to almost condemn his favourite punching bag team to defeat.
Karnataka now host Punjab in their next encounter at Hubli from Saturday .
Scoreboard Haryana (1st innings): 247 Karnataka (1st innings): 256 Haryana (2nd innings): 105 Karnataka (2nd innings, o/n 62/4): CM Gautam c Yadav b Patel 5, Stuart Binny (not out) 31, Ganesh Satish lbw Patel 0, Abrar Kazi c Saini b Patel 0, Abhimanyu Mithun (not out) 0. Extras (lb4) Total (for 7 wicketsl 33.5 overs) 97 FoW: 3-55, 4-59, 5-82, 6-84, 7-86 Bowling: Harshal Patel 16.5-4-41-5, Ashish Hooda 11-2-26-1, Sanjay Budhwar 6-0-16-0 Karnataka: 6 points. Haryana: 0.