Karnataka take command

Bowlers shine as defending champions skittle hosts for 212

Karnataka take command
On the eve of the match, Maharashtra coach David Andrews had confessed that the Karnataka pace attack is one of the best in the country. Responding well to the Australian’s opinion, the visiting fast bowlers skittled the hosts in just two sessions to take home the day one honours in their final Group ‘A’ Ranji Trophy encounter here at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Tuesday.

The quartet of Vinay Kumar (2/44), Abhimanyu Mithun (2/49), HS Sharath (2/56) and S Arvind (3/35) worked in tandem to bundle out Maharashtra for a modest total of 212. If not for the excellent one-man show from middle-order batsman Ankit Bawne (87), the visitors would have struggled to get past the 150-mark.

At a perilous situation of 123 for eight, Bawne forged two useful partnerships with the tail-enders – first a 33-run stand with Nikit Dhumal and then a handy 56 runs alliance with Bharatkumar Solanki to restore some amount of respect for his side.

At the end of day’s play, the defending champions were 50 for one, with opener Mayank Agarwal (25) and Robin Uthappa (1) in the middle. R Samarth’s slump in form continued as the right-hander managed a meagre 20, before offering a simple catch to Kedar Jadhav at first slip off Shrikant Munde.  

On a surface that offered genuine bounce and carry, the Karnataka pacers’ accuracy in line and length made life difficult for the Maharashtra batsmen. While Karnataka bowlers were disciplined, some of the loose shots from the hosts’ batsmen, who neither had the technique nor the temperament to handle the quality bowling, didn’t help their cause.

One hour into the first session, on the back of a half-century stand between openers Swapnil Gugale and Sangram Atitkar, Maharashtra had begun their innings on the right note, after being put in to bat. The introduction of Shreyas Gopal opened the floodgates, as the leg-spinner scalped Gugale. After playing well for his 30, Gugale went for a needless scoop off Shreyas and mistimed it to square leg, where a diving Arvind completed a fine catch. In the very next over, Atitkar (19) was sent packing by Arvind.

CM Gautam, who had a successful outing against Delhi, last week in Hubballi, where he took six catches, once again sparkled with his athleticism. Gautam’s diving catch to his right brought the downfall of Rahul Tripathi and gave Sharath his first wicket of the day.

Stand-in skipper Jadhav was let off twice, first by Mithun at square leg off the bowling of Sharath and then by Karun Nair at third slip off Vinay. But the experienced campaigner failed to capitalise on the chances.
The 30-year-old went for a drive but ended up offering a simple catch to substitute J Suchith off Sharath.

Excellent knock
With most of their batsmen back in the pavilion, Bawne made sure he took most of the strike and kept the scoreboard ticking. Making good use of the tired shoulders of the pacers, Bawne smashed five sixes and eight fours and entertained a small group of supporters. But when the 51-minute stay of number 11 Solanki was ended by Vinay, Ankit was left stranded 13 short of a century.

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