Mohali: Karnataka have almost sealed their spot in the final of the Ranji Trophy after only 36.1 overs of play was possible against Punjab in the penultimate day of their semi-final match during which they consolidated their lead to 177 runs.
At stumps on fourth day, Karnataka were 447 for five in 146.1 overs after bad light stopped the proceedings. The visitors scored 96 runs on the day without losing any further wickets as left-hander Amit Verma celebrated his return to the state side with an unbeaten knock of 114 runs while in-form Karun Nair reached 151.
The duo have already added 206 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket stand and with a day left, the match as a contest has already ended and the fifth day from here on will be a mere formality for R Vinay Kumar and his boys as they gear up for their final against Maharashtra starting January 29.
Karnataka will certainly not like to declare their innings and ideally want Karun to try and get another 49 runs which will help him complete a coveted first double hundred in Ranji Trophy.
Starting the day in 351 for five, Karnataka batsmen Nair and Verma didn't face any difficulty whatsoever in negotiating with the Punjab pacers. Nair, who has faced 296 balls has hit 12 boundaries while Verma has 17 hits to the fence off 265 balls.
The day started with Verma moving into the 70's with a couple of boundaries behind the square on the off-side off Manpreet Gony's bowling.
He got another streaky four past slip cordon off Harbhajan Singh before dispatching a loopy full-toss from offie Gurkeerat Singh towards cover boundary. Verma completed his eighth first-class century in his 39th match with a hard slash past point off Jaskaran Singh.
Nair also steadily progressed as he added another 44 runs to his overnight score getting past 150-run mark. The right-hander time and again opened the face of his bat using the gap in the third man region to good effect.