Karnataka face tough task
When Karnataka lock horns with Haryana at the KSCA ground in Rajnagar from Saturday, their humiliating loss to the same opponents nearly a year ago in Bangalore will play a big part in how they approach the contest.
Karnataka suffered a dramatic six-wicket loss at the hands of Amit Mishra’s men to crash out in last season’s quarterfinals at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.
The hosts have struggled so far this season as they are fifth on the table with fourteen points from six out of eight league matches, and with this being yet another ‘do-or-die’ encounter between the sides, they will be wary of whatever Haryana have to throw at them.
The six-time champions have to win two of their remaining matches in order to stand a chance of making it to the quarterfinals. If Karnataka win one match and take the innings lead in another they can still hope to be one of the three teams from Group ‘B’ making it to the quarters, but that would depend on how some of the other teams perform. And Karnataka can ill-afford to let it come down to that.
Stuart Binny, who will step in for the injured R Vinay Kumar as the skipper, will have these stats in mind on Saturday but the chirpy all-rounder has yet another huge issue to deal with before coming remotely close to worrying about if his team makes it through to the next stage or not.
Vinay was named as part of the Indian squad for the T20s against England but was ruled out due a hamstring injury and was replaced by Abhimanyu Mithun, leaving Karnataka with a depleted pace battery for this crucial encounter. However, the likes of HS Sharath, Ronit More and SL Akshay to add to Binny, and even if relatively inexperienced, can be expected to come good on the green wicket.
The batsmen, who were a concern for most part of Karnataka’s campaign this season, seem to have found their footing and that will certainly come as a relief to coach J Arun Kumar. Hurting from their humiliating loss against Odisha – result of yet another batting collapse, Karnataka’s batsmen regrouped and did justice to all the hype with a good second innings performance against Delhi and a sparkling show against Vidarbha in their last match.
They can once again be expected to put their hand up and be counted but given that they know as much about this pitch as Haryana do, may not give them the home advantage in the true sense of the word.
Apart from the fact that Haryana possess a strong line-up, what makes Mishra’s men more dangerous is that they don’t have anything left to play for. Haryana are placed eighth on the nine-team table and with ten points from six games, it would require them to pull off a couple of bonus-point wins to get to the middle of the table, let alone upset the teams vying for a quarterfinal berth.
This is Karnataka’s chance to make amends for last season’s heart-breaker and their last chance to put behind this season’s poor start.
Teams (from): KARNATAKA: Stuart Binny (captain), Robin Uthappa, KL Rahul, Ganesh Satish, Kunal Kapoor, Manish Pandey (vice-captain), Amit Verma, CM Gautam (wicketkeeper), KP Appanna, HS Sharath, Ronit More, SL Akshay, Karun Nair, K Gowtham, Aditya B Sagar.
HARYANA: Amit Mishra (captain), Abhimanyu Khod, Rahul Dewan, Sunny Singh, Rahul Dalal, Nitin Saini (vice-captain, wicketkeeper), Yatharth Tomar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Sandeep Singh, Sandeep Godara, Joginder Sharma, Jayant Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Harshal Patel, Ashish Hooda, Lalit Bhati, Priyank Tehlan, Sanjay Badhwar.