Kedar Jadhav continued his glorious form in the Ranji Trophy with a sparkling century as Karnataka maintained their upper hand despite a spirited fightback by Maharashtra on Day 4 of their Ranji Trophy final in Hyderabad.
Karnataka finished their first innings on 515 taking a sizeable 210 run first innings lead. In reply, Maharashtra were 272 for six in their second essay courtesy 112 by Jadhav and his 118-run partnership for the third wicket with Ankit Bawne (61).
Maharashtra now lead by 62 runs with four wickets in hand.
R Vinay Kumar was the most successful Karnataka bowler grabbing four for 84 although he was taken to the task by the Maharashtra batsmen.
This is Yadav's sixth first-class century of the season and he ends this edition of Ranji Trophy with 1223 runs at a staggering average of 87.35 and a strike-rate of 80.30.
Saturday’s knock, which was his 10th first-class century, he faced 135 balls hitting 10 boundaries in the process.
At stumps, Skipper Rohit Motwani (3 batting) and Shrikant Mundhe (3 batting) will expect to take the lead closer to 150 if Maharashtra are thinking of making a match of it and pull off what looks like an improbable win as of now.
However, no one can take away the credit of the manner in which they dominated the proceedings on the fourth day.
Karnataka added 41 runs more courtesy their captain Vinay's 28 as they took their lead past 200 runs mark.
Knowing, they can only stay in the contest with a positive intent, Vijay Zol (31), Bawne and Yadav played their natural game as Maharashtra scored their runs at four per over.
Jadhav's batting was exceptional against the slow bowlers as he repeatedly used his feet to good effect. He was watchful for the first 30 balls of his innings and went on to attack once Robin Uthappa was brought into the attack.
The pint-sized batsman gave Uthappa the charge to hit a one-bounce four over long-on.
He gave the same treatment to Sreenath Aravind and against leggie Shreyash Gopal, he danced down the track to hit him inside out over extra cover.
Bawne, on the otherhand, punished the occasional loose deliveries and rotated the strike well.
The best part about Jadhav's innings was his ability to hit boundaries on both sides of the square. When Vinay pitched it around his pads, he whipped it towards fine leg for a boundary while he unleashed a crashing cut shot when Mithun gave width outside off-stump.
He swept part-time leg-spinner Amit Verma, who was trying to contain the run flow pitching it on the leg stumps line.
His century came off 118 balls when he got a couple sweeping Verma.
En route his century, Jadhav lost a reliable partner in Bawne, who was out for 61 having struck four boundaries in his 115-ball knock. He was out as he tried to give Gopal the charge in his bid to score quickly and was stumped by Gautam.
Sangram Atitkar's poor shot selection -- a slog sweep off Gopal saw Maharashtra getting reduced to 174 for four from a relatively comfortable 172 for two.
Jadhav, however, found a solid partner in Chirag Khurana (37) as the duo added 88 runs for the fifth wicket before skipper Vinay struck twin blows at the fag end of the day with couple of juicy full-tosses.
Khurana would be cursing himself as he mistimed a full-toss from Vinay with the leading edge being taken Uthappa in the cover region.
In his very next over, it was Yadav's turn to hit another full toss straight to Uthappa. While Khurana's was skier, this one came flat at the former India opener.
Image: Vinay Kumar
Photograph: Pal Pillai/Getty Images