Bowlers do job for Karnataka
Hosts secure first innings lead against Vidarbha
Pushed to the wall, Karnataka came up with an inspired performance on a day when bowlers had the better of exchanges for the first time at the Gangotri Glades.
In genuine danger of conceding the first-innings lead despite managing a mammoth 619/8 declared, the hard-working home bowlers dismissed Vidarbha, overnight 302/2, for 447 to earn 172-run lead that ensured them three points on the final day of their Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy match here on Tuesday.
Karnataka did have the option of enforcing the follow-on but with only 39 overs left in the day, the chances of bowling out the opposition for the second time were as slim as the pitch breaking up.
With their skipper and pace spearhead R Vinay Kumar still nursing his injury, it would have made little sense to ask a tired Karnataka bowling unit, which had already sent down a whopping 163.2 overs, to have another crack at the visiting batsmen. After choosing to bat again, Karnataka were 81/3 when the match was called off before the start of the mandatory overs.
After being pushed to number nine in the first innings with Karnataka searching for some quick runs, Kunal Kapoor got a chance a bat at number three in the second. Restricted in movements by a swollen knee after sustaining a hit while fielding on the third day, the right-hander got out early though.
Karnataka, who were targeting an outright win to enhance their qualifying chances, would be less than satisfied with their three-point effort that took their tally to 14 points from six matches.
Having moved up by one spot to fifth in the table, Karnataka take on Haryana in their next match at Hubli from December 22.
On a day when wickets fell and tempers rose high between rival players with Robin Uthappa even being summoned by the match referee, pacer Abhimanyu Mithun (4/60) won many applauds with a lion-hearted show. The best returns from a bowler from either side in the match were nothing more than the just reward that the relentless trier deserved.
After the 23-year-old provided the much-needed breakthroughs by dismissing overnight batsmen Amol Ubarhande (137, 282b, 18x4) and Shalabh Srivastava (97, 247b, 11x4) in a long morning spell of 9-3-15-2, left-arm spinner K P Appanna (3/109) came up with his first significant performance of the season, helping Karnataka snatch the lead.
There were pockets of resistance in the middle through Gaurav Upadhyaya (38), dropped early in the innings by Uthappa off H S Sharath, and skipper Sairaj Bahutule (48 n.o.) but those innings did nothing more than delay the inevitable.
Uthappa, however, had brought up a brilliant catch at slip to dismiss Hemang Badani, who had survived a stumping chance earlier. The southpaw’s faint edge off Appanna had gone off the pads of stumper C M Gautam but an alert Uthappa held on to the offer just millimetres from the ground after juggling with the ball.
While returns of 4/60 may not turn many heads, Mithun’s performance had to be viewed in the context of the match. Up against an unresponsive surface, the right-arm quick had bowled as well as he has ever done on Monday but without the same luck.
On the final day, though, the paceman’s fortune turned for the better. His probing morning spell not only saw the back of two set batsmen but also broke the resolve of the visitors who conceded the lead but not without a fight.