Pacemen put Karnataka in command

Vinay Kumar, Arvind help visitors bowl out Madhya Pradesh for paltry 200

Opting to bowl first, the visitors’ famed pace triumvirate -- R Vinay Kumar (2/36), A Mithun and a vastly-improved S Arvind (3/35) -- shot out Madhya Pradesh for a modest 200 in 73.5 overs and then finished the opening day’s proceedings on a healthy 35 for no loss from 14 overs to take a firm grip of their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal clash here at the Holkar Stadium on Friday, a fortuitous Robin Uthappa (25) and KB Pawan (9) holding the fort.

For close to an hour in the morning there were hardly any indications of things that were to transpire. Comfortably placed at 113 for two with just two balls to go for the lunch interval, Madhya Pradesh suffered an extraordinary collapse thanks to a combination of some irresponsible batting and disciplined bowling.

On a wicket with some bounce but no real demons, Madhya Pradesh openers were not put under any serious trouble by Karnataka new-ball bowlers. There were occasions when Vinay and Arvind did beat the blade with some late movement but barring those few edgy moments, the hosts’ openers – Naman Ojha and Jalaj Saxena (73, 129b, 12x4) -- appeared in control. While the normally aggressive Ojha bided his time, the compact-looking Saxena took it upon himself the job of scoring. He was particularly severe against Mithun as Madhya Pradesh board ticked at over five runs an over.

The decision to bowl first was increasingly looking a wrong move when Vinay struck to remove Ojha with a beauty. In some discomfort against the Karnataka skipper, Ojha nicked an outswinger to stumper CM Gautam to put an end to a 42-run association.

However, it wasn’t until MP skipper Devendra Bundela surrendered his wicket to an impressive Arvind at the stroke of lunch that the floodgates were thrown open. In between, left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi had separated the partnership of 47 runs between Saxena and Mohnish Mishra for the second wicket with the latter offering a return catch.

Madhya Pradesh, then 89 for two, would have happily taken that score but Bundela’s dismissal resulted in an unmitigated disaster for the home side. Two balls after resumption, Madhya Pradesh lost Abbas Ali who had backed up too far before he was sent back by Saxena. Having played his part in Abbas’ exit, Saxena pushed his team into more trouble by playing an ill-advised pull off Arvind. In no position to play the shot, the right-hander failed to clear Stuart Binny at mid-on. Returning for his third spell, Vinay cleaned up Murtaza Ali, this time with a delivery that shaped in. In just about six overs and 12 runs, Madhya Pradesh lost four wickets to decisively handover the advantage.   

Harpreet Singh, who had slammed a ton against Andhra in their semifinal, couldn’t offer more than a token resistance before he fell to part-time leg-spiner Amit Verma, going for an ambitious lofted drive. Having gone wicketless in his first five spells, Mithun came back to trap Anand Rajan in front to round off an excellent second session for Karnataka.

While they conceded 113 runs in exchange of three wickets in the period till lunch, the visitors removed five batsmen while giving away only 75 runs in the next session. Joshi (2/43) and Arvind completed the formalities sharing the last two wickets, but not before Ankit Sharma (41 n.o.) took them for a few, providing some respectability to Madhya Pradesh total.

Karnataka have begun well towards ensuring their place in the semifinals, but it’s only job half done.

 Scorecard

MADHYA PRADESH (I Innings): Naman Ojha c Gautam b Vinay 12 (45m, 29b, 2x4), Jalaj Saxena c Binny b Arvind 73 (115m, 129b, 2x4), Mohnish Mishra c&b Joshi 14 (59m, 33b, 2x4), Devendra Bundela c Gautam b Arvind 7 (42m, 42b), Abbas Ali (run out) 0 (2m, 1b), Harpreet Singh c Joshi b Verma 23 (86m, 59b, 2x4), Murtaza Ali b Vinay 2 (14m, 12b), Ankit Sharma (not out) 4 (134m, 83b, 5x4), Anand Rajan lbw Mithun 10 (18m, 18b, 1x4), TP Sudhindra c Arvind b Joshi 3 (34m, 28b), Amit Sharma c Mithun b Arvind 2 (14m, 10b) Extras (B-4, LB-2, W-5, NB-2) 13 Total (all out, 73.5 overs) 200.

Fall of wickets: 1-42 (Naman Ojha), 2-89 (Mohnish Mishra), 3-113 (Devendra Bundela), 4-113 (Abbas), 5-118 (Saxena), 6-125 (Murtaza), 7-162 (Harpreet), 8-177 (Rajan), 9-195 (Sudhindra).

Bowling: R Vinay Kumar 15-3-36-2, A Mithun 17-1-62-1 (nb-2, w-5), S Arvind 15.5-2-35-3, Amit Verma 10-3-17-1, Sunil Joshi 15-1-43-2, Stuart Binny 1-0-1-0.

KARNATAKA (I Innings): Robin Uthappa (batting) 25 (65m, 45b, 3x4), KB Pawan (batting) 9 (65m, 39b, 1x4). Extras (W-1) 1. Total (for no loss, 14 overs) 35

Bowling: TP Sudhindra 6-2-15-0, Amit Sharma 4-2-8-0 (w-1), Anand Rajan 3-1-3-0, Ankit Sharma 1-0-9-0.

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