Karnataka bowlers call the shots

Binny, Appanna grab three wickets apiece as hosts skittle Punjab for 174 on day one

Karnataka bowlers call the shots

At the start of the day it seemed Karnataka’s bowlers were going to have to endure a long day on a pitch that offered no more than the occasional awkward bounce.

However, R Vinay Kumar’s bowling arsenal figured out the best possible way to bowl on this surface and struck cohesively to bowl Punjab out for a meagre 174 in 54.5 overs on the opening day of their Group ‘A’ Ranji Trophy encounter at KSCA’s DR Bendre Stadium in Rajnagar on a sunny Saturday.

Karnataka, in response, were on 59 for two from 27 overs, trailing the visitors by 115 runs with KL Rahul (22) and Manish Pandey (13) unbeaten at stumps.

Stuart Binny (3/62) and KP Appanna (3/29) are to be credited for Karnataka’s superb showing, but no one expected their batsmen to have a crack at Punjab’s well-oiled bowling unit by tea time on the opening day.
 Reason for that being, Vinay had opted to bowl on a pitch that looked tailor-made for batsmen. Jiwanjot Singh and Manan Vohra reaffirmed the pitch’s affinity towards batsmen when they got off to a positive start against Vinay and Abhimanyu Mithun despite the duo pitching the ball in all the right areas.

Jiwanjot -- coming into this game with a double hundred under his belt -- was looking particularly good when a bad call from his partner resulted in him having to walk back to the pavilion.

Attempting a non-existant three, Jiwanjot rested his faith on Vohra’s call and went for it. Appanna chased the ball and saved it from going over the ropes at deep point by lobbing it to KL Rahul whose throw landed inches above the stumps and wicketkeeper CM Gautam completed the simple task of dislodging the bails.

Punjab’s mainstay was out of the way by the sixth over for Karnataka to try and make some early inroads but that was not to be.

Uday Kaul joined Vohra (69, 94b, 10x4) in the middle and the duo forged a partnership that threatened to smother Karnataka’s ambitions. Vohra was aggressive in his approach while Kaul (29, 63b, 4x4) was measured as they joined hands and added 93 runs for the second wicket.

Karnataka rotated their bowlers well but nothing seemed to go in their favour. Karnataka’s luck, however, was about to change. Binny got Vohra to edge a full and wide delivery to Rahul at second slip in the 28th over. 

With Vohra not there to protect their middle-order, Punjab came down crashing like a house of cards.

Punjab, who took lunch with the score on 117 for three, lost Taruwar Kohli a couple of overs later and Gurkeerat Singh not too long after.

While the rest of the side wilted against Karnataka’s disciplined bowling line-up, skipper Mandeep Singh remained unperturbed and unbeaten on 32 when Punjab lost the final wicket of Vinay Chaudhary to Appanna in the 55th over of the day, signalling the end of the innings and the 100th first-class victim for the left-arm spinner who replaced an injured Abrar Kazi at the last minute. Middle-order batsman Karun Nair finally earned his debut, replacing a struggling Kunal Kapoor.   

Manpreet Gony gave Punjab something to take back by bagging the wickets of Mayank Agarwal and Ganesh Satish in quick succession in Karnataka’s first innings. Still, the opening day clearly belonged to the hosts.

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