Ranji Trophy champions Karnataka batted themselves into a winning position in the Irani Cup game against Rest of India as they built a massive first innings lead of 189 runs, courtesy a swashbuckling unbeaten century by Stuart Binny here on Monday. Karnataka, having begun the day at 35 for one in reply to the Rest's 201, were 390 for five at stumps on the second day of the five-day match with 29-year old Binny (115 not out, 107b, 14x4, 3x6) leading the charge while Ganesh Satish (84, 180b, 11x4) and Karun Nair (92, 161b, 12x4) further heaped misery on the visitors.
In chalking up his first century of the season and eighth in first class, Binny, who had taken 3 wickets for 35 on the first day, showcased his all-round ability as he not only provided much needed momentum to Karnataka innings but also ensured that the hosts took a stranglehold of the match. For the Harbhajan Singh-led Rest of India, it was a day of toil and frustration with Karnataka batsmen running rampant on a pitch where the bounce tended to be uneven.
As well as Satish and Nair batted, it was Binny, son of former India all-rounder and 1983 World Cup hero Roger Binny, who took the game away from Rest of India with a stroke-filled innings that had the sparse die-hard fans at the Mangalam Chinnaswamy stadium on its feet.
A combination of timing and power marked Binny's knock as he put the Rest attack to the sword. More importantly, he was involved in a huge 187-run stand in just 29.1 overs with Nair who proved an ideal foil in the course of this highly entertaining partnership.
Earlier, it was Satish who ground the Rest bowling with a judicious mix of caution and aggression. He looked set for a century, but was ruled out caught behind by Kedar Jadhav, keeping wickets in place of an injured Dinesh Karthik, off Harbhajan.
Nair and Binny, fresh from New Zealand after the ODI series, then took charge with the Rest attack seemed to be running on empty tank. The bowling generally left a lot to be desired and the Karnataka batsmen took toll of the offerings without being troubled at any time.
Only the tall UP fast bowler Pankaj Singh looked the part in the Rest attack and though he came in for some stick during the Binny-Nair stand, he showed a big heart and kept chipping away. He eventually dismissed Nair who was caught in two minds and under-edged a ball on to his stumps late in the day.
The two Rest spinners Harbhajan and Amit Mishra were at best restrictive, but on occasion, were treated with scant respect, especially by Binny who used his feet well to smash a couple of sixes besides boundaries, predominantly between extra-cover and third man.
Rest of India had begun well enough by removing opener Lokesh Rahul (35) who was castled by seamer Anureet Singh and Manish Pandey (36) who snicked Pankaj Singh to Karthik. Soon after, Satish, who was batting extremely well, was unlucky to be adjudged caught behind.
Rest of India (1st innings): 201
Karnataka (1st innings): Robin Uthappa c Jadhav b Dinda 0 (5b); Lokesh Rahul b Anureet 35 (63b, 7x4); Ganesh Satish c Jadhav b Harbhajan 84 (180b, 11x4); Manish Pandey c Karthik b Pankaj 36 (47b, 7x4); Karun Nair b Pankaj Singh 92 (161b, 12x4); Stuart Binny (batting) 115 (107b, 14x4, 3x6); Chidambaram Gautam (batting) 6 (29b). Extras (b-16, lb-2, nb-4): 22. Total (for 5 wkts, 98 overs): 390.
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Uthappa, 0.5); 2-75 (Rahul, 22.5); 3-136 (Pandey, 38.5); 4-188 (Satish, 61.3); 5-375 (Nair, 90.4).
Bowling: Ashoke Dinda 23-5-93-1; Pankaj Singh 23-6-78-2; Anureet Singh 21-5-78-1 (1nb); Amit Mishra 14-2-56-0 (3nb); Harbhajan Singh 14-2-56-1; Baba Aparajith 3-1-11-0.