Karnataka need to pull up their socks

Vinay Kumars men take on Delhi in crucial tie

Karnataka have not been in the best of forms this Ranji Trophy season and with only four games to go in the league phase, they need to pull up their socks. The former champions, however, have very little time to do that as they lock horns with Delhi in their Group ‘B’ encounter at the M Chinnaswamy stadium from Saturday.

Karnataka’s Stuart Binny during a practice session in Bangalore on Friday. DH PHOTO/ SRIKANTA SHARMA R

Karnataka lie at the bottom of the table with five points from four matches, while Delhi are in fourth place with eleven points from five games. Like Delhi, who are expected to bring former India paceman Ashish Nehra into the team, Karnataka’s bowling line-up will be bolstered by the return of pacer Abhimanyu Mithun, who was left out of a couple matches after injuring his hamstring.

Barring the inclusion of Mithun in place of S L Akshay, the hosts’ bowling unit is expected to remain untouched with skipper R Vinay Kumar leading them along with HS Sharath and part-time pacer Stuart Binny.

KP Appanna will in all probability get another chance to prove his worth, but on a wicket as green as the one on offer here, the left-arm orthodox bowler will not fancy his chances.

While the bowling unit looks set and has gone about doing a good job, Karnataka’s much-hyped batting line-up is a cause for concern.

Poor run of form

KB Pawan’s poor run of form has cost him a spot in the side and even though he was included in the squad later on he is expected to sit out with K L Rahul coming in.
Pawan was expected to be in the C K Nayudu Under-25 squad for the semifinals but when it was revealed he couldn’t play that match with the side already having three Ranji players, he was drafted back into the Ranji squad.

The other issue that Karnataka have found it hard to deal with is the dramatic change in Robin Uthappa’s change style of play.

The attacking batsmen seems to have curbed his instincts, and while the runs suggest that he has been one of the better performers for Karnataka, he has been anything but fluent. It also seems like Uthappa’s transition from aggressor to an accumulator has affected the batsmen coming down the order; but that is no excuse for how badly the rest of the pack have performed.

Barring a couple of innings here and there, Karnataka’s batsmen have found the going hard, with poor shot selection costing them many a time.

Ganesh Satish has by far looked the best for Karnataka this season with his ability to stick around and CM Gautam too has come up with a few crucial knocks, but they have not been able to inspire Karnataka, who are winless in four games.

As far as their opponents are concerned, Delhi have not had the best season so far as they suffered losses against Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, but with the return of some of their seniors, they can be expected to give Karnataka a run for their money.

Especially since they too, like Karnataka, possess a strong pace bowling unit on a wicket which can help them.

Nehra, who was out with an injury, will in all likelihood make his comeback and join the likes of Parvinder Awana and Pradeep Sangwan to spearhead the campaign.
Delhi’s batting though is something that will trouble Karnataka.

Skipper Shikhar Dhawan seems to have found some form and India’s under-19 World Cup-winning captain Unmukt Chand too looks in good nick, while Mithun Manhas has been consistent.

The two teams have gotten off to bad starts so far but with four games to go, this is the right time to accelerate.

The ones to come out on top will have the wind behind their sails going into the business end of the tournament.

Teams (from): KARNATAKA: R Vinay Kumar (captain), KL Rahul, Ganesh Satish, Stuart Binny (vice-captain), Manish Pandey, CM Gautam, Kunal Kapoor, Abhimanyu Mithun, Amit Verma, KP Appanna, SL Akshay, HS Sharath, SK Moinuddin, KB Pawan.
DELHI: Shikhar Dhawan (captain), Unmukt Chand, Mohit Sharma, Mithun Manhas, Viabhav Rawal, Rajat Bhatia, Puneet Bisht, Ashish Nehra, Sumit Narwal, Parvinder Awana, Pawan Suyal, Pradeep Sangwan, Varun Sood, Miland Kumar, Vikas Mishra.
Match referee: Rajendra Jadeja. Umpires: Roah R Pandit and RM Deshpandey.

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