Karnataka target win against ageing Rlys

Confident visitors hold edge in second match

At 28, Bharath Chipli is the oldest of Karnataka players while K Yere Goud, the former Karnataka skipper but back in the Railways’ fold now, is a good 12 years senior to him. A glance at the hosts’ camp throws at you visuals of several ageing warriors.

At 39, Railways’ genial skipper Sanjay Bangar is just a few months younger than Goud, while all-rounder Jai Prakash Yadav (37) and left-arm spinner Murali Kartik (35) too are on the wrong side of 30s. In fact, Railways have seven players whose average age is just over 35.

However, there was little let up either in intensity or effort from these seasoned campaigners ahead of their Group ‘A’ Ranji Elite Division second-round match beginning here at the Karnail Singh Stadium on Thursday. They may not be as agile or sharp on the field but the experience that comes along with the passing summers is invaluable. If anything, the visitors will have to guard against the knowledge of situations that these veterans bring to the table.

“They (Railways) are always a difficult opposition because they have quite a few international players in their ranks,” said Karnataka skipper R Vinay Kumar. “They may have lost their game against Mumbai, but we can’t take them lightly. They are an experienced side and moreover it’s their home turf.”

Railways’ fortunes will hinge largely on the trio of former India internationals Bangar, Yadav and Kartik. Only Bangar, who struck 89 in the first innings against Mumbai in their 10-wicket loss, stood out with gutsy batting show while the other two had forgettable outings. Kartik would be particularly disappointed with his wicket-less effort as would be Yadav, doing little justice to his all-rounder tag. Yet to get amongst points, Railways will definitely come hard at Karnataka, and if they are given a chance to twist the arm, they will do so gladly.

After missing out on what appeared to be a certain six-pointer against Rajasthan in their opener, Karnataka too would be immensely disappointed if they can’t win against Railways. Despite dominating the defending champions for most of the first three days’ play, Karnataka failed to apply the finishing touches to the game letting the hosts get away with a point.

Blame it either on the delayed declaration or dropped catches in Rajasthan’s second innings, the former champions, who find themselves third behind table-toppers Mumbai and the second-placed Uttar Pradesh, will have analysed reasons behind what is essentially an unsatisfactory show.

There were, however, a number of positives to take from the opening game. Besides KB Pawan’s unbeaten double ton, Stuart Binny’s 151 and KP Appanna’s six-wicket haul for the match, the effectiveness of the pace trio – Vinay, A Mithun and S Arvind – on an unresponsive Udaipur surface was encouraging. Even on the last-day wicket, all the three pacemen were able to get the ball to bounce consistently, and with a little bit of alacrity and assistance from their team-mates on the field, they could have seen Karnataka home.

The batting more or less looks settled. Robin Uthapppa should consider himself unlucky to miss out on a big knock on a good wicket while Manish Pandey and Amit Verma would have been deeply upset with themselves for not converting their half-centuries into hundreds. Come to think of it, the entire team should be disappointed at not being able to seize the golden chance in the opener. Railways’ match offers them an immediate opportunity to rectify it.

Other Elite matches: Group A: Mumbai vs Rajasthan; Punjab vs Orissa; Uttar Pradesh vs Saurashtra.

Group B: Baroda vs Madhya Pradesh; Gujarat vs Delhi; Tamil Nadu vs Haryana.

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