Bengaluru, March 19: Ranji Trophy champions Karnataka tightened their grip on the five-day Irani Cup game against the Rest of India by extending their overall lead to 321 runs by stumps on the third day here on Thursday.
The home team, resuming their second innings at 39 without loss, was well served by opener Ravikumar Samarth (81, 159b, 10x4), Karun Nair (80, 123b, 12x4) and Manish Pandey (73 batting) as they piled up 341 for six.
It was a hard grind for the Rest of India bowlers who never quite looked like running through the rival line-up even with Samarth on top, followed by Nair and Pandey who put on 106 runs for the fifth wicket that helped Karnataka to consolidate.
Although Rest of India achieved a breakthrough early in the first session when Mayank Agarwal (28) gloved a catch to the slips while fending Varun Aaron's short ball, the Karnataka batsmen who followed batted well enough to deny the Rest bowlers.
Samarth and Nair proved to be the steadying factors for Karnataka who gradually took control of the match. Late in the day, the hosts lost two quick wickets, those of Nair and Shreyas Gopal (0) in consecutive overs. But there was no reprieve for the visitors as Pandey and skipper R. Vinay Kumar - both still playing - put on 52 runs for the seventh wicket.
Brief scores: Karnataka 244 and 341 for 6 in 93 overs (Ravikumar Samarth 81, Abhishek Reddy 31, Karun Nair 80, Manish Pandey 73 batting, Varun Aaron 2 for 85, Pragyan Ojha 2 for 93) vs Rest of India (1st innings) 264 all out.