Karnataka skipper R Vinay Kumar ripped through the Mumbai batting order grabbing six wickets in their semifinal clash. DH file photo.
Ahead of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal clash, there was inevitable focus on the enormous talent present in Karnataka and Mumbai. But on the opening day here at the Vidarbha Cricket Association, it all came down to just one player: R Vinay Kumar.
The Karnataka captain's decisions and bowling effort were marked with smartness. He called it right at the toss and his assessment of the pitch forced him to put Aditya Tare's batsmen in. And in the first hour of the match itself, Vinay produced his vintage stuff to rock Mumbai.
The 33-year-old breathed fire and bagged a hat-trick en route to finishing with splendid figures of 6/34 as the 41-time champions were bowled out for 173 in two sessions. An in-form opening pair of R Samarth (40) and Mayank Agarwal (62 n.o.) then took Karnataka to 115/1 at stumps.
Instead of dealing with the disciplined Karnataka pace attack with the requisite technique and patience, Mumbai batsmen chose to be ordinary and they paid for it. It wasn't a fast bowler's haven but a 9:00 am start â€“ 30 minutes prior to the usual commencement â€“ meant that the conditions were going to favour the pacers in the first session. Vinay made most of the assistance by sticking to the basics and his 100th first-class match for Karnataka turned out to be a memorable one.
Vinay scalped the openers by getting the ball to move. Prithvi Shaw (2) and Jay Bista (1) stayed rooted to the crease and poked at away going deliveries only to see Karun Nair latch on to them at first slip. Karun's second catch to dismiss Bista was special. Realising in a split second that wicketkeeper C M Gautam wasn't going for the catch, the vice-captain attempted with his left hand and successfully held on to it.
After removing the openers, it was hat-trick ball for Vinay and Mumbai's bizarre planning helped the Karnataka captain achieve the special feat. At 7/2, Mumbai needed an experienced head but they promoted Akash Parkar, a rookie with just five first-class matches under his belt, to negotiate the new ball. Vinay trapped Akash in front to become the second bowler from the State, after Anil Kumble, to bag two Ranji hat-tricks.
Despite the early burst, Karnataka still had to fight it out against the experienced Mumbai middle order that included Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare and Suryakumar Yadav. Lad, thanks to his ability to bail out his team from precarious situations, was the key man. It took a peach of a delivery from Vinay to send Lad back in the hut. The right-hander was caught behind as the Mumbai innings never settled down. Suryakumar Yadav, in his attempt to counter attack, perished caught behind to S Arvind and Tare edged a rising ball off Mithun to Samarth at gully.
Left-hander Akhil Herdwadkar (32) showed resistance but fell to Vinay's brilliance. At 103/9, a responsible half-century from Dhawal Kulkarni (75) and his 70-run stand with Shivam Malhotra helped Mumbai avoid an embarrassment.
The Karnataka openers showed it was the right technique and concentration that mattered with a composed stand of 83 runs.