Tough road ahead

Karnataka’s misery this season was complete on Tuesday when a lowly Odisha humiliated them by 65 runs in their own den in a Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy match here.

Half-way through their campaign, that is four matches in a nine-team pool, Karnataka stay stuck at seventh place with just five points and it will take something out of the ordinary for the former champions to qualify for the knockouts from this stage.

Having registered their second consecutive win, Odisha have emerged surprise leaders with 13 points after four matches in a group that also has traditional powerhouses Delhi and Tamil Nadu. Though Baroda too have 13 points from four ties, they have just one outright win which places them behind Odisha. Delhi, after their first innings lead against TN, occupy the third place with 11 points.

From the other teams, Uttar Pradesh, 10 points from three games, are strong contenders to make the knockouts along with TN, who have accrued nine points from four outings. Even Vidarbha have more points (8) than Karnataka despite playing a match less.

The R Vinay Kumar-led side, which gets a break in the next round, has its task cut out when it resumes campaign against a formidable Delhi here on December 8. The group is still wide open at the moment with a tight race to grab the three quarterfinal spots, but Karnataka can’t afford further slip ups.

After the Delhi match, Karnataka will take on Haryana and Vidarbha at home before winding off their league proceedings in Pune against Maharashtra.

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