Delhi wrest initiative

Awana scalps five wickets to bundle out hosts for paltry 192

Delhi wrest initiative

Karnataka’s gamble to bat first on a wicket that was made to assist the pacers backfired as Delhi wrested advantage on the opening day of their Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy encounter at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.

A day after Karnataka coach J Arun Kumar had stated they would bowl first if they were to win the toss, it was a surprise to see Karnataka’s batsmen take guard. Expectedly, the out of form batsmen could not stand the test and were bundled out for 192 in 65 overs, largely due to Parvinder Awana’s five-wicket haul.

Skipper Shikhar Dhawan then carried Delhi to 44 for two on the back of his fast-paced, unbeaten 38 (70m, 56b, 7x4) with Mithun Manhas (5) unconquered at the other end.

Earlier, Uthappa, who was specifically asked to revert to his old aggressive ways, smashed a four off the third ball to take Karnataka off the mark. A bizarre call from umpire Rohan R Pandit a ball later, however, had Karnataka on the backfoot.

The right-hander stepped out to address a length delivery from Ashish Nehra and was struck on the knee roll well outside the line of the stumps. Much to everyone’s surprise, the umpire — after much thought — lifted his finger to send a stunned Uthappa back to the pavilion.

K L Rahul, who is playing is his first game this season, and Ganesh Satish looked unperturbed against Awana, Sumit Narwal and Nehra. Ganesh – currently the highest scorer for Karnataka with 344 runs from eight innings – lost his cool after facing 31 deliveries and hesitantly poked at delicate out-swinger from Narwal which carried to ’keeper Punit Bist.

With two of their most successful batsmen of the season back in the hut with the score on 33, Karnataka were in deep trouble, and things only got worse from there on.
Awana, replacing Nehra at the North End, struck with his first ball as he castled Rahul with a beautiful out-swinger which squared the batsman up and struck the top of off stump.

It was down to Manish Pandey and debutant Kunal Kapoor to help steady the ship, but once again the hosts could not find a partnership to bail them out. Pandey was the first to go as the right-hander, after cracking a couple of good looking boundaries, unnecessarily pushed at a wide ball from Narwal, nicking it to Bist.

Kapoor looked stylish during the course of his 56-minute stay at the crease but that was going to count for little as he managed only 11 runs before he edged Rajat Bhatia to Bist, who snapped up five catches on the day.

Back from lunch with the score on 71 for five in 32 overs, Stuart Binny (61, 160m, 113b, 8x4) and CM Gautam forged a partnership that saved Karnataka some humiliation.

As Binny clinically went after Delhi’s bowlers – specifically Awana — Gautam held the other end up and the duo stitched together a crucial 38-run partnership before the Karnataka ’keeper, who was given a reprieve when he was on 10, slashed hard and saw his edge carry safely into Bist’s gloves.

Binny continued to play aggressively and also stuck around to add a quickfire 42 runs for the seventh wicket with his skipper Vinay (28). But his stay and Karnataka’s hopes of reaching a position of safety was shut out when he — much like a couple of other batsmen earlier  – fished at a ball from Awana which carried through to the ’keeper.

With Binny out of the way, the Delhi bowlers had the simple task of scalping three tail-end wickets. Awana grabbed a couple of them to complete his seventh five-wicket haul in Ranji Trophy, while Bhatia bagged one to finish with two wickets in the innings.

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