Karnatakaprovide lifeline to Punjab

Cricket : Ranji Trophy: Joshi, Vinay sparkle but catching let hosts down

Karnatakaprovide lifeline to Punjab


BEATEN: Punjab’s Love Ablish getting clean bowled by Sunil Joshi at Mysore on Thursday. DH PHOTO/ PRASHANTH H G

Asked to take first strike on a pitch with plenty of bounce, Punjab finished day one of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal at the Gangotri Glades on 292 for nine. That would seem good returns for the home side, but Thursday’s play was as much about missed opportunities as anything else.

At various stages during the first four and a half hours, Rahul Dravid would have been wondering if he had done the right thing by not opting to bat. Despite appreciable bounce and reasonable early movement, the greenish surface held few terrors, and Karnataka didn’t help their cause as their form pacemen, most notably R Vinay Kumar in his first spell and S Aravind for longer, erred in length and direction at the start.

Indeed, after A Mithun continued his excellent first-season form by firing out openers Sunny Sohal and the aggressive Ravi Inder Singh with well-directed short deliveries within the first hour, Karnataka had to rely on loose strokes from the Punjab batsmen to get a look-in at the middle and lower orders.

First Uday Kaul, and then Vishwas Bhalla with increasing assurance and authority, put the bowling and the conditions in perspective; towards that end, they received generous assistance from butter-fingered Karnataka fieldsmen who put down five catches of varying degrees of difficulty, not one of which was in the ‘impossible’ league.
It’s difficult to imagine what memories Sunil Joshi will take away from the first day’s proceedings.

The seasoned left-arm spinner elicited a sharp catch at slip from Dravid to evict the stubborn Kaul after a reassuring three-and-a-half hour stay at the stroke of tea, and gnawed away at the tail with a spell of 11-5-21-4 that saw Punjab slide to 215 for eight, and then 251 for nine.

Five chances

He also put down the simplest of the day’s five missed chances, too casual in his approach as last man Harmeet Singh put up a skier to mid-on off a mistimed pull to the first delivery with the second new ball, sent down by the luckless Vinay. Harmeet associated himself in a bruising unfinished stand of 41 for the last wicket with Bhalla as frustration mounted in the Karnataka camp.

In the same over, Ganesh Satish put down Bhalla at deep backward square to round off a very profitable day for the pugnacious right-hander.

Bhalla had been dropped when zero out of 162 for five by Robin Uthappa off Vinay – no prizes for guessing, there! – and saw Aravind spill a sharp return catch on his follow through when 25.

Making the most of his exceptional good fortune, he played some crunching strokes after the second new ball had been summoned to dent bowling figures and egos. How much those dropped chances will come back to haunt Karnataka, only time will tell.

In an excellent mid-afternoon spell of 5-1-12-2, Vinay had eaten substantially into the Punjab batting to atone for his patchy start to the day, and should have had better returns than three for 92 if the catches had been held.

Punjab too have reason to look back on the day’s proceedings and wonder what might have been. Four of the top five got off to starts but apart from Kaul, no one put his head down and appeared prepared for the hard yards. Had it not been for Bhalla’s tenacity and good fortune, they might not have survived the day.

Score Board

PUNJAB (I Innings): Sunny Sohal c Uthappa b Mithun 16 (27m, 23b, 2x4), Ravi Inder Singh c Satish b Mithun 30 (63m, 35b, 6x4), Mayank Sidana c Uthappa b Vinay 37 (82m, 56b, 7x4), Uday Kaul c Dravid b Joshi 68 (207m, 145b, 6x4), Pankaj Dharmani c Pandey b Vinay 29 (80m, 58b, 5x4), Taruwar Kohli c Pandey b Vinay 5 (18m, 18b, 1x4), Vishwas Bhalla (batting) 62 (155m, 143b, 8x4), Rahul Sharma c Gautam b Joshi 0 (12m, 7b), Manpreet Gony b Joshi 0 (6m, 7b), Love Ablish b Joshi 26 (36m, 30b, 3x4), Harmeet Singh (batting) 11 (38m, 24b, 2x4). Extras (B-1, LB-6, NB-5) 12. Total (for 9 wkts, 90 overs) 292.

Fall of wickets: 1-19 (Sohal), 2-50 (Ravi Inder), 3-96 (Sidana), 4-150 (Dharmani), 5-160 (Kohli), 6-209 (Kaul), 7-211 (Sharma), 8-215 (Gony), 9-251 (Ablish).

Bowling: R Vinay Kumar 22-4-92-3 (nb-2), Abhimanyu Mithun 18-5-53-2, Sreesanth Aravind 22-2-70-0 (nb-3), Sunil Joshi 25-8-62-4, Amit Verma 3-0-8-0.

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