Seamers put Karnataka on top

Paceman Arvind scalps four as visitors bowl out Saurashtra for paltry 216

Robin Uthappa’s young band, also missing experienced paceman R Vinay Kumar — nursing an ankle niggle — were all over eternal nemesis Saurashtra on day one of their final Ranji Trophy Super League Group B encounter.

At close of a mostly satisfying day, Karnataka had replied to the home side’s timid 216 with 80 for two, Ganesh Satish playing some exquisitely sparkling strokes on his way to 45 not out. Strangely, Uthappa did not walk out to open the batting. In need of a big knock for self-confidence, if nothing else, the skipper will hope to cash in on what are expected to be the best batting conditions of the match on the morrow.
With left-arm paceman S Arvind (4/84) in the forefront and A Mithun (2/46) backing him up admirably, Karnataka reduced Saurashtra to an anaemic 93 for seven at lunch.

After the interval, however, the visitors let last year’s semifinalists off the hook, allowing Sandeep Jobanputra to make a well-crafted unbeaten half-century and help realise 101 for the last two wickets alongside Pratik Mehta and number eleven Sandip Maniar.

Before their lacklustre post-lunch display, Karnataka had been on top of their game. Determined to make up for the absence of Vinay – the season’s leading wicket-taker – Arvind took it upon himself to spearhead the attack in the company of the increasingly impressive Mithun as Saurashtra frittered away the advantage of choosing to bat.

Early damage

There was some juice in the pitch early on and the bounce was slightly uneven, but that was no excuse for Saurashtra’s total lack of stomach for battle. Mithun did the early damage, firing out Sagar Jogiyani and the attack-minded Chirag Pathak – one of five left-handers in the Saurashtra top-seven – and then watched as Arvind cut a swathe through the middle-order.

Saying that, it was a wonderful reflex catch on his followthrough by Stuart Binny to get rid of the prolific Cheteshwar Pujara that set the cat among the pigeons. Pujara came into this tie with 491 runs this season, but after two silken boundaries, he was sent packing as Karnataka got a look-in at the Saurashtra middle-order.

Arvind had bowled well without luck in his first spell, even seeing Pathak put down at fine-leg by Mithun. A change of ends did the trick for him as, in a burst of 5-1-14-3, he ripped the heart out of the home side. Skipper Jaydev Shah was trapped palpably in front, the obdurate Sitanshu Kotak removed without scoring with a delivery that shaped away and Rakesh Dhruv cleaned up first ball by one that jagged back into the left-hander. Brilliant stuff!

Mehta and Jobanputra began the rescue act with generous help from Karnataka’s listlessness after lunch. Spinners Udit Patel and KP Appanna – umpires MG Mandle and R Subramaniam Iyer spoke to Uthappa about the left-arm tweaker’s action – were less than threatening, allowing 53 to be added for the ninth before Binny returned to roll over Mehta. Sandip Maniar eventually perished after putting on 48 for the last wicket with fellow quick Jobanputra, left stranded on a handy 53.

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