Sticky pitch proves Karnataka's undoing

Mumbai breezed into the semifinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy with a convincing nine-wicket victory over Karnataka at the Feroze Shah Kotla here on Tuesday.

On a pitch that tested the skills of the batsmen in the first half, Karnataka failed to put up resistance. Seamer Kshemal Waingankar’s three-wicket strike and delightful batting shows by Wasim Jaffer and Ajinkya Rahane ensured Mumbai’s easy win.

The match exposed the advantage a team gets from winning the toss. Karnataka skipper Robin Uthappa and veteran Jaffer made no secret of their displeasure at this aspect of the game.

Uthappa said it looked as if they were playing on two different pitches. “In the morning, it was difficult to bat on. The pitch was sticky and the ball was stopping. None of us got out to a rash shot. We all did our best,” Uthappa said.

Jaffer concurred, “The pitch was different by the time we came out to bat. It had eased out. It made the toss crucial and the game became one-sided. It is like, you win the toss and you win the game. Our bowlers did well but if we were to bat first, then anything could have happened. It is a disadvantage to everybody.”

The day's fortune was reserved for Mumbai, who elected to field. Ajit Agarkar and Dhawal Kulkarni extracted adequate movement before man of the match Waingankar (3/19) made it difficult for the batsmen with a nagging line.

Agarkar gave the team an early breakthrough when he trapped opener Mayank Agarwal while Waigankar, demonstrating the significance of line and length, had Manish Pandey caught behind.

The Mumbai bowlers prospered from the ball stopping. One such delivery spelt the early dismissal of Uthappa. Off a Waingankar delivery, Uthappa went for a flick but the ball stopped and he ended up top-edging to Rohit Sharma at cover. Stuart Binny also fell to a ball that stopped, caught by Agarkar at mid-on.

The mid-morning sun dried the pitch and in a matter of time, the track morphed into a surface conducive to batting. At this stage, Sunil Raju (30) and Raju Bhatkal (38) provided the much-needed thrust and with their 73-run seventh-wicket stand ensured the total went past the 100 mark.

However, Ankit Chavan (2/29) removed the two in quick succession. Raju was bowled and Bhatkal caught at long-off by Rahane.

Jaffer delighted with some textbook drives during his fluent 68 off 61 balls and Rahane, playing second fiddle, made an unbeaten 80-ball 71. The two scored at a fast clip and by the time Jaffer was bowled by Kazi, Mumbai were on the threshold of victory.

SCORE BOARD

KARNATAKA: Robin Uthappa c Rohit b Waingankar 30, Mayank Agarwal lbw Agarkar 7, Ganesh Satish lbw Kulkarni 7, Manish Pandey c Marathe b Waingankar 0, Amit Verma c Marathe b Waingankar 4, Stuart Binny c Agarkar b Nayar 5, Sunil Raju b Chavan 30, Raajoo Bhatkal c Rahane b Chavan 38, Abrar Kazi (not out) 22, Abhimanyu Mithun (run out) 11, Ronit More (not out) 10. Extras (LB-4, W-10) 14. Total (for 9 wkts, 50 overs) 178.
Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-40, 3-41, 4-47, 5-57, 6-57, 7-130, 8-137, 9-168.

Bowling: Ajit Agarkar 9-1-32-1, Dhawal Kulkarni 9-1-47-1, Kshemal Waingankar 10-5-19-3, Abhishek Nayar 5-0-16-1, Ankeet Chavan 9-0-29-2, Iqbal Abdulla 8-0-31-0.
MUMBAI: Wasim Jaffer b Kazi 68, Ajinkya Rahane (not out) 71, Sushant Marathe (not out) 31. Extras (LB-4, W-5) 9. Total (for 1 wkt, 29.1 overs) 179.

Fall of wicket: 1-119.

Bowling: Abhimanyu Mithun 6.1-0-30-0, Ronit More 3-0-23-0, Stuart Binny 2-0-17-0, Abrar Kazi 8-0-45-1, Amit Verma 3-0-28-0, Raajoo Bhatkal 5-0-25-0, Sunil Raju 2-0-7-0.

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