Karnataka on sticky wicket

Defending champions face early exit after losing to Jharkhand

Karnataka on sticky wicket
After their bowlers had done well to restrict rivals Jharkhand for a modest 216 for eight, Karnataka looked good to register their third straight win. But the famed batting line up of the hosts came a cropper to suffer a 47-run drubbing at the hands of the visitors in their Group ‘B’ Vijay Hazare Trophy encounter here at the Alur (2) Ground on Tuesday.

Put into bat, Jharkhand’s innings was marked by a hard-fought half-century from Ishank Jaggi (50) and valuable contributions from Kumar Deobrat (47 n.o.) and Saurabh Tiwary (43). For the fourth straight game, there were no fireworks from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, as the star batsman was sent back for just one.

Karnataka’s impressive bowling performance was led by left-arm spinner J Suchith, who dried up the runs and finished with excellent figures of four for 35. Karun Nair’s part-time off-spinners also proved to be effective and the 24-year-old picked up two for 35 in nine overs, including the scalp of Dhoni. 

An exceptional bowling display from left-arm spinners Sonu Kumar Singh (3/20) and Shahbaz Nadeem (3/15) proved to be too good for the defending champions as they were bundled out for 169.

The defeat is a big blow to Karnataka's quest to enter the knockouts. They now have eight points from four games, with two victories and as many defeats and lie fifth in the group. The R Vinay Kumar-led side now faces a must win situation in its final two group games and its entry to the quarterfinals will also depend on results from the other games in the group.  

For the hosts, Skipper Vinay Kumar, suffering from a hamstring injury and Abhimanyu Mithun, ailing from a back spasm, were rested. Abhishek Reddy came in place of Sadiq Kirmani as KL Rahul donned the wicketkeeping gloves.

After Reddy (5) fell cheaply, Mayank Agarwal (20) and KL Rahul (42) nudged around ones and twos and just when their partnership was looking promising, Jharkhand struck through Nadeem, when the left-arm spinner removed Agarwal in the 10th over. Stand-in skipper Manish Pandey (1) too didn’t stay long but the hosts recovered with a 41-run partnership between Rahul and Nair (24). With his patient approach, Rahul was set for a big knock but a slight lapse in concentration saw him get out caught behind to Sonu.

Rahul’s wicket was the start of the collapse as Karnataka lost their way. Shreyas Gopal stepped out to the third ball he faced and missed it completely to be dismissed stumped while Praveen Dubey ran for a non-existent single after pushing the ball to short-mid off and was run out for 2. List A debutant debutant David Mathias fell for a first-ball duck after he played a nothing shot and gave a simple catch to short mid-wicket.

Stuart Binny (8), who stepped on the ball while fielding to twist his ankle, came in lower down the order to bat but contributed nothing much and a lone-battle from Suchith (34 n.o.) went in vain for the hosts. 

After the rest day on Wednesday, Karnataka take on Kerala at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Thursday.

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