New Delhi: Opener Abhishek Kaushik struck a gritty half century to lead Railways' fight against defending champions Karnataka on day two of their Ranji Trophy Group A cricket match here on Monday.
Kaushik's 59 runs off 90 balls on a two-paced surface helped Railways reach 106 for four at stumps, trailing Karnataka by 141 runs. The southpaw's dismissal towards the end of the day was a big blow to the hosts, who remain confident of taking the the all important first-innings lead on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, the visitors added 40 runs to their overnight total before being all out for 247. Krishnakant Upadhyay took the last three wickets of Karnataka's innings, taking his innings haul to seven for 98.
Compared to day one, more time was lost today due to lack of visibility at the Karnail Singh Stadium. Play could only start after lunch and the trend is likely to continue in the remaining two days, making the first-innings lead advantage all the more important.
Railways made a solid beginning after taking an hour to wrap up the opposition innings. Kaushik and Nitin Bhille (10) fought it out against a potent Karnataka pace attack and by tea the home team was 63 for one.
Heated words were exchanged between the close-in fielders and Railways batsmen right before the break and the usual on-field incident fired up the visiting side more in this case.
Stuart Binny bowled his heart out in the final session to get Karnataka back in the match. One of India's World Cup probables cranked up decent pace on a helping pitch to finish with figures of 2 for 18 in eight overs.
Binny had Bhille caught at second slip the first ball after lunch. The Railways batsman could not do much against one that jumped and seamed off the greenish pitch. The medium pacer then trapped the in-form Arindam Ghosh (1) in front of the stumps to leave Railways at 67 for three.
Thereafter, the hosts withstood the sustained pressure created by India internationals Binny, Abhimanyu Mithun and Vinay Kumar until losing Kaushik close to stumps.
Anustup Majumdar (25 batting) was joined by Avinash Yadav (1 batting) in the middle when umpires decided the light was not good enough to carry on.
The match is nicely poised going into tomorrow but Binny thinks his team has the upper hand.
"The wicket is a bit up and down at the moment. You are never set on this wicket and that is why I think we are in a better position. It is a wicket on which you can score runs but you are never set, whether you batting on 40 or 60," said Binny.
Brief scores: Karnataka 247 all out in 82.3 overs (CM Gautam 64, Kunal Kapoor 53; Krishnakant Updadhyay 7/98), Railways 106/4 in 36.5 overs (Abhishek Kaushik 59; Stuart Binny 2/18).