Appanna shines as Karnataka wrest command

Appanna shines as Karnataka wrest command

Left-arm spinner bags five wickets

Having opted for a turning track in their bid to undermine the pace-heavy Karnataka attack, Railways found the left-arm spin of KP Appanna too hot to handle on a powdery surface which saw 15 wickets fall on the day.

Appanna, who had bagged six wickets in the opening match against Rajasthan, claimed his best first-class figures (5/39) as Railways, in reply to Karnataka’s 347 all out, collapsed to a paltry 134 in 53.5 overs. Forced to follow on with 213 runs in arrears, the home team had laboured to 33 for two at stumps. With still 180 runs in deficit and two full days to go, Railways require nothing less than a miracle to change the course of the game that is now headed in only one direction; a potentially massive win for Karnataka.

Crucial blows
While Appanna, who set the rot in with a wicket off the first ball he bowled, led Karnataka’s charge with his second Ranji five-wicket haul, A Mithun (3/29) struck crucial blows at the other end not allowing any breathing space for the rival batsmen.

The paceman was also responsible for Karnataka extending their overnight total of 284 for seven. Skipper R Vinay Kumar fell on the cusp of a well-deserved fifty, but Mithun used long handle to good effect to rattle a valuable 32 runs (44b, 3x4, 2x6). With S Arvind contributing 20, the visitors collected 63 runs in the morning to reach what now appears a daunting total.

Railways had introduced Murali Kartik in the eighth over of the first day, but Karnataka went a step ahead and brought in Appanna in the fifth over. The Kodava lad justified the faith in him dismissing openers Shreyas Khanolkar and Shivakant Shukla in the first two overs he bowled.

Mithun then god rid of a flicking Faiz Fazal to leave Railways shaking at 31/3. Skipper Sanjay Bangar and Yere Goud, the two Railways’ stalwart, stonewalled the visiting attack for some time, but the innings baulked in no time once Arvind got rid of Goud. Turning to left-arm spin from Appanna’s end, the 27-year-old accounted for Bangar at the stroke of lunch as Railways found themselves teetering at 104/6.

Mithun and Appanna then shared the last four wickets to help Karnataka enforce the follow-on for the second time in as many matches. On a slow turner, Appanna stuck to his task for impressive returns. He was slow through the air, and didn’t give away many boundary bowls like some of Railways’ spinners did.

The nature of the track not only encouraged Arvind to roll his arm over, but Stuart Binny too tried his luck with leg-breaks.

Mithun also deserves a special mention for his gutsy show. The right-arm quick delivered whenever his skipper summoned him. The 22-year-old hastened Railways’ end with two wickets off successive balls while Appanna castled Kartik in the next over as the last three wickets fell on the same score.

Mithun got Karnataka off to a good start in the second innings, trapping Khanolkar in front while Vinay dismissed Marupuri Suresh off the final ball of the day to put his team firmly on road to victory.