Karnataka complete double

Karnataka complete double

Ranji Trophy champions crush listless Rest of India; Shreyas claims hat-trick

The Rest of India wickets fell faster than the bids raised for the marquee players by the Indian Premier League franchises at the auction here as Karnataka completed a grand double of Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup triumphs after a gap of 15 years.

Such was the domination of Karnataka that it took less than three and half days’ play for them to register an emphatic innings and 222 runs on the fourth and penultimate day of the Irani Cup here at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Wednesday. Skipper R Vinay Kumar, who became only the third captain from the State after EAS Prasanna (1974-75) and Brijesh Patel (1983-84) to win both Ranji and Irani in the same season, led the home charge with his fourth first-class 10-wicket haul. The right-arm pacer followed up his six-wicket haul (6/47) in the first innings with four more in the second (4/70) as Rest, overnight 114/3, were rolled over for a sorry 183, Karnataka bowlers taking no more than 97 minutes in the morning to wrap up the proceedings.

As clinical as Karnataka were, the performance of the Rest players was equally ordinary. “It was really shocking that we lost seven wickets in the first one and a half hours,” said Rest coach Lalchand Rajput. “It’s disappointing because Rest of India consists of the best domestic players; they’re all aiming to play for the country. I never expected this kind of performance from them. I think the toss also played a very crucial role because it was difficult to bat on the opening day. But I must also give credit to Karnataka bowlers, Vinay Kumar especially,” he remarked.

The former Mumbai skipper also praised Karnataka’s performance through the season. “They are having a very good season this time; they had won the Ranji Trophy and they carried forward that confidence with them. They batted deep but the best part about their game was they played as a team. That was the key for their success. They were hungry to win Ranji Trophy and this (Irani Cup) is the icing on the cake.”

Vinay, who turned 30 on the day, couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift. Declared the man of the match for his match haul of 10/117, he set the ball rolling with two quick wickets in one over -- Dinesh Karthik played one on to the stumps while Mandeep Singh was caught plumb in front. This set the stage for leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal to polish off the remaining four, including a hat-trick. Before he triggered the Rest collapse, Shreyas had also run out Amit Mishra with a direct hit from silly point.    

Rest skipper Harbhajan Singh was Shreyas’ first scalp of the day and it wasn’t long before he claimed his second first-class five-wicket haul. Baba Aparajith, the one Rest batsman who showed some stomach for a fight, holed out to Stuart Binny at long-off while Ashok Dinda and Pankaj Singh were bowled off successive googlies. This was the eighth instance of a Karnataka bowler achieving a hat-trick after Raghuram Bhat, Anil Kumble (twice), Javagal Srinath, Anand Katti, Vinay and A Mithun.       

“It’s a great feeling,” said Vinay after the match. “We have been waiting for 15 years as a team and I have been waiting for 10 years as player to play for Karnataka in the Irani Cup. It’s been a great performance by the team. Everyone who got a chance to play has performed well and it’s been a great experience to lead such a wonderful bunch of players,” he noted.

Vinay also credited batting coach J Arun Kumar and bowling coach Mansoor Ali Khan for creating a happy dressing room. “They have been both part of Ranji and Irani winning squads and they used to tell us about the feeling of being champions in both Ranji and Irani. They instilled the feeling of togetherness and they were more of friends than coaches to us. It was a pleasure to have them around and work with them.”

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