Vinay keeps champs in front

Vinay keeps champs in front

Pacer claims six wickets as Mumbai crash to 44 in reply to Karnataka's 202

Vinay keeps champs in front

Karnataka were seemingly out of the contest once they were bowled out for 202 by tea on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy semifinal against Mumbai.

But the defending champions regained their swagger through the incomparable R Vinay Kumar.

 The Karnataka skipper and their lead pacer produced a stirring spell (8-1-20-6) as the hosts rolled over Mumbai for just 44 in their first innings to take a 158-run lead. In their second innings, Karnataka were 10 for the loss of Robin Uthappa and KL Rahul, ahead by 168 runs.

The M Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch sported a heavy shade of green and some cracks. But that gave little indications of a manic day in which 21 wickets fell, with Karnataka gaining momentum after fighting back from the brink.

Karnataka, who elected to bat first, had proceeded rather serenely to 117 for three at lunch and the standout feature of the first session was Uthappa’s fine fifty (68, 100 balls). After the early departure of Rahul and R Samarth, Uthappa, who played some crunchy shots, and Manish Pandey added 81 runs in 132 balls to steady the hosts’ innings.

The lone unsettling moment was Shardul Thakur’s leg before shout against Uthappa when the batsman was on 12, and the Kodava man was massively fortunate to see umpire Vineet Kulkarni shaking his head in denial. However, Uthappa was dismissed at the stroke of lunch, edging Wilkin Motta to Surya Kumar Yadav at second slip. 

In the second session, the momentum slowly began to shift – from Karnataka to Mumbai and from batsmen to bowlers.          

The trigger point was the dismissal of Pandey, who shuffled a bit too much to get caught in front of the wicket against Thakur, easily the most impressive Mumbai bowler. Thereafter, the Karnataka batsmen were hardly in the picture, walking back to the hut after casual jaunts to the middle.

Karun Nair (49 n.o.) was an exception. The right-hander, who was dropped on eight by Surya Kumar at second slip off Motta, played a gritty innings and added some precious runs with the lower-order to take his team past the 200-run mark. But in the middle session, Karnataka lost seven wickets for 87 runs in 26.2 overs, and the damage appeared irreparable.

However, the third session saw some incredible scenes. Vinay provided an early intimation about the impending carnage, trapping opener Akhil Herwadkar leg before for a duck in the first over itself. From that point, Vinay made the final session his own, also providing a temporary edge to Karnataka.

Vinay would not threat your limbs with his speed, but his bag of tricks could bamboozle even the best. Apart from a few cracks, pitch did not hide any monster in it, and Vinay precisely found those areas to trouble the batsmen.

The visitors’ biggest bets for getting a sizeable first innings total would have been skipper Aditya Tare and the in-form Shreyas Iyer. But Vinay jettisoned Tare through a caught behind, while Abhimanyu Mithun gave marching orders to Shreyas as Mumbai slipped to 25 for three in 6.2 overs.

The unavailability of Abhishek Nayar, their most experienced batsman, too hampered Mumbai’s progress. Nayar didn’t come out to bat after suffering a head injury while fielding.

Vinay’s irrepressible spell meant that Mumbai’s first innings would last just 15.3 overs and 77 minutes. At this point, Karnataka have their nose clearly ahead. But their batsmen will have to come up with a much better effort on Thursday to cement the advantage.

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