Karnataka aim to put campaign on track
Pacer Vinay Kumar returns to lead against Odisha
Karnataka will look to put up an improved show when they take on Odisha in their Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy encounter at the M Chinnaswamy stadium from Saturday.
Karnataka have managed to score a mere five points from three matches after conceding the innings lead to Baroda and Uttar Pradesh. Their best show so far has been against Tamil Nadu where they stitched together an improbable chase to earn three points on innings lead.
However, this being their first home match, Karnataka can be expected to come good on a pitch which they would be able to assess better against a side which is making a slow progress in the season.
Skipper R Vinay Kumar, who was rested for the match against Uttar Pradesh after he pulled his hamstring in the match against Tamil Nadu, returns to the fray and will bolster a bowling line-up which has been clinical, barring a few lapses against UP in their previous encounter.
Given the green nature of the pitch and the grey weather which has persisted these past few days, the India paceman will in all likelihood retain Ronit More and HS Sharath while Stuart Binny will operate as a part-time seamer to add another dimension to the pace battery, while KP Appanna may be the only spinner Odisha’s young batting line-up would have to deal with. Off-spinner K Gowtham has been retained in the squad while left-arm spinner SK Moinuddin, who didn’t play a single match, has been left out.
Abhimanyu Mithun, who was rested in the match against UP for a side-strain, will not play against Odisha also as the team doesn’t want to risk losing the player for the rest of the season.
The 23-year-old would have been handful with his pace and bounce on a pitch as helpful, but that role will now have to be executed by Sharath. The well-built 19-year-old opened his Ranji campaign with a five-for in the first innings against UP and even though he went wicketless in the second innings, he wasn’t found short on effort.
Minor set-backs in the bowling department aside, they are expected to click once again. The biggest problem, though, is their batting. Even if they did show skill and courage in the match against TN at Chepauk, their display against Baroda in their opening match and UP, where they just about denied their opponents an outright win, in their previous encounter will be something that they would be wary of.
The Debashish Mohanty-coached outfit may have garnered a couple of points more than Karnataka but they too have come on the back of good bowling performances in low-scoring matches. Led by Basant Mohanty, Odisha managed to pull off an outright win over Haryana in their previous match to come into this game with their tails up but their batsmen will need to strike if they are to put any pressure on Karnataka.
Going by the weather forecast, rain is expected to disturb the opening day but if it does hold up, Karnataka will have their eyes trained on putting their best foot forward.
KARNATAKA: R Vinay Kumar (capt), Robin Uthappa, KB Pawan, Ganesh Satish, Manish Pandey, Amit Verma, Stuart Binny (vice-capt), CM Gautam (wk), KP Appanna, HS Sharath, Ronit More, Kunal Kapoor, KL Rahul, K Gowtham, SL Akshay.
ODISHA: Natraj Behera (capt), Sandip Mulia, Gobinda Poddar, Biplab Samantray (vice-capt), Abhilash Mallick, Subhrajit Sahu (wk), Halhadar Das (wk), Basanta Mohanty, Alok Mangaraj, Alok Sahoo, Deepak Behera, Lagnajit Samal, Anil Buda, Niranjan Behera, Saurabh Sehgal.
Umpires: Nitin Menon (Indore) and Umesh L Dubey (Mumbai). Match referee: Lt Col Sanjai Verma (Delhi).