Karnataka eyeing third straight win

Vinay's men take on depleted Punjab

Karnataka eyeing third straight win

Having zoomed to the second position in Group A behind leaders Mumbai, Karnataka will look to establish themselves as frontrunners for a berth in the quarterfinals when they face a depleted Punjab in their sixth Ranji Trophy encounter at the DR Bendre KSCA Stadium in Rajnagar here from Saturday.

With 19 points from five games after back-to-back wins against Odisha in Cuttack and Haryana in Lahli, Karnataka are coming into this game with momentum on their side. The return of Indian seamer R Vinay Kumar has further amplified their chances of pinning the visiting side against the mat.

Vinay, who missed a couple of matches due to his wedding, will lead the pace attack with Abhimanyu Mithun set to share the new ball with his skipper. Bowling coach Mansur Ali Khan will have the tough decision of choosing between HS Sharath and Ronit More as the third pacer. While Sharath has done no harm to his cause bagging 13 wickets so far this season, More set up Karnataka’s win with a second-innings five-wicket haul against Haryana in the previous match. 

Karnataka would retain Abrar Kazi ahead of his fellow left-arm spinner KP Appanna. While Kazi, who has four wickets in five innings, hasn’t set the scene on fire, Appanna hasn’t been amongst wickets either, making for the former’s choice a little easy.  

“That’s because the wickets have not been conducive,” batting coach J Arun Kumar said during the pre-match press conference on Friday when asked about why their spinners have been ineffective. “It’s also because of the time of the year -- it swings more and there’s more grass on the wicket.”

While the bowling unit seems to be going great guns, Karnataka’s batting remains a cause for concern. The famed line-up has come up with good performances on a few occasions but they -- especially the middle-order -- have lacked consistency.

As far as Punjab, who are third on the table with 17 points from five games, are concerned bowling is their biggest asset but they have already taken a hit in losing skipper Harbhajan Singh. The off-spinner has been ruled out for ten days due to a shoulder injury. 

The visitors will rely heavily on Sandeep Sharma, who has taken 26 wickets in four matches, to strike for them while Siddarth Kaul and VRV Singh will have to play their part if Punjab are to make a match out of this encounter.

It may seem the odds are in favour of Karnataka but Vinay’s men will need to guard against complacency and take into account that the two encounters that follow are tough ties against Delhi and Mumbai. 

Comments (+)