Onus on young turks

Karnataka take on Punjab in opening match at Mohali from today

A set of fresh limbs had propelled Karnataka to the Ranji Trophy final in the 2009-2010 season and now they have the envious task of carrying the State one step ahead. Last year was momentous for Karnataka in every sense of the word with a clutch of youngsters embossing their mark in emphatic fashion.

Pacer Abhimanyu Mithun donned India colours after taking the highest number of wickets in the Ranji season. His senior colleague R Vinay Kumar too went on to play for India after a long wait while young batsmen like Manish Pandey, KB Pawan, Ganesh Satish and Amit Verma underscored their scoring abilities under various conditions and against different opponents.

Now, they will have to prove that their excellent outing in the last season was not a mere flash in the pan and given their talent and current form there’s no reason why they can’t do an encore. Karnataka are placed in Super League Group B along with Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa and Baroda.

Vinay, who will lead the team in the first two matches in the absence of former India skipper and the original choice to lead the side Rahul Dravid, sounded confident of another Karnataka surge. Dravid will join the squad after the on-going Test series against New Zealand.

“The team did extremely well last season and we want to continue the good work. Mithun, Arvind and I bowled well in tandem and among the batsmen Manish and Ganesh had a good stint. Robin also had a few good knocks. Yes, there will be the pressure of expectations because of the way we played last season. But I have conveyed to the team that we need to enjoy our game and not put any undue pressure on ourselves,” Vinay said.

Mysore all-rounder Aditya Sagar and talented right-hander KL Rahul will be the two new faces in the 15-member squad to be coached by K Sanath Kumar. “Rahul is a talented batsman and he has come up very well through the age-group tournaments. The team is young and compact and there is good spirit among the players and we are all keen to start our Ranji season well,” Vinay said with the confidence ringing in his voice.

However, Punjab is not an opponent who could be taken lightly. They have the dashing Yuvraj Singh in their ranks and the southpaw had recently slammed a double hundred in the Irani Cup at Jaipur, underlining his touch and class. The hosts also have a good set of bowlers at their disposal, eager to exploit the home conditions.  But this young Karnataka team had showed a penchant to master challenges of different proportions last season. So, they will most certainly not shy away from this one as well.
Matches: Group A: Railways vs Assam; Bengal vs Mumbai; Gujarat vs Saurashtra; Tamil Nadu vs Delhi.

Group B: Karnataka vs Punjab; Haryana vs Baroda; Uttar Pradesh vs Orissa.

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