Pawan, Appanna make their point in style

The duo, under pressure for different reasons, would be more relieved than elated with its respective performances that helped Karnataka come away with first-innings honours in Udaipur. While Pawan set up Karnataka’s big total with an epic 251 not out, Appanna claimed a match-high six-wicket haul which played a significant role in Karnataka’s dominance of the defending champions.

Appanna and Pawan made their debuts the same season — in 2006-07 when Venkatesh Prasad (coach) and Yere Goud (skipper) were entrusted with the job of reviving the plunging fortunes of the former champions. While Pawan got to play just one match (the semifinal against Bengal), Appanna appeared to be one for the future finishing the season with 21 wickets.

The promise, however, proved to be a fleeting one as the youngster managed just five wickets from four matches the following season and then was eased out of the squad after being reported for suspect action. A serious knee injury, which had to be operated upon, was the last thing the bowler needed even as he was working his way back. “Trust me, I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through,” said Appanna about the tough days he spent on the sidelines.

To his credit, though, the Kodava lad put in the hard yards once again and was ready for a comeback just when veteran Sunil Joshi had taken up the coaching job of Hyderabad. As Appanna admitted, it was no easy task to step into the void left by Joshi who was the highest wicket-taker for Karnataka only the previous season. With a plethora of spinners waiting in the wings, Appanna, returning to the side after missing two seasons, was obviously being observed keenly and a four-wicket burst in the Rajasthan first innings was the ideal comeback he would have been hoping for.

“Honestly I didn’t think he (Appanna) will have such a good game,” noted skipper R Vinay Kumar pointing to the fact that the surface offered little help for the bowlers.
“He was injured for a long time and was making a comeback after two years. He made sure we didn’t miss someone like Sunil Joshi. I just hope he continues the good work,” he remarked.

Unlike Appanna, Pawan has been an integral part of the team since his debut. The right-hander was the highest run-getter (418 from seven matches) for Karnataka in 2007-08 and had his best season yet in 2009-10 when he stacked up over 600 runs. However, a modest outing the previous year (354 at an average of 23.60) had put him under notice.

The fact that he completed 2000 first-class runs while bringing up his latest ton shows the 23-year-old has largely been a consistent performer. The problem, however, with the likes of Pawan is that they are more likely to be written off after one average season than some of the flamboyant batsmen. While we go a little soft on the stylish, a workman like Pawan is often judged harshly.

With an attacking Bharath Chipli back in the squad and KL Rahuls and Karun Nairs knocking on the door, the Mysore boy had to deliver. Deliver he did and how! A maiden double hundred would have done a world of good to his confidence. Hopefully for the two youngsters, and more importantly for Karnataka, it’s just the beginning of bigger things to come.

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