Samarth looks to build on the gains

Samarth looks to build on the gains

If there is one batsman from Karnataka who has risen up the ranks in the last one year, it has to be R Samarth. The stylish right-hander was the highest run-getter (702 runs) for the State in the last edition of the Ranji Trophy and his impressive consistency in the domestic circuit earned him India ‘A’ and Duleep Trophy call-ups.

While there weren’t any big knocks from his willow, Samarth showed signs of maturity and talent required at the big stage. The 24-year-old struck two fifties against hosts South Africa ‘A’ and went on to slam two more half-centuries – one each in Duleep Trophy (against India Red) and India ‘A’ (against New Zealand ‘A’) games. There is still a long way to go for Samarth to realise his dream of playing for the senior national side and the youngster is keen to maintain the good run.

“I am glad the right opportunities came my way and I did well in most of my chances. I am glad things finally fell in place. Last year, I started off well by slamming a double century in our opening Ranji Trophy game (against Jharkhand). I got a lot of fifties last season but couldn’t convert them. That will be my main goal (this season),” said Samarth.

Karnataka boasted a decorated batting line-up at least in the last four editions. But the eight-time champions will be without their major stars for the majority of the tournament this time. The onus lies on the likes of Samarth to guide the top order but the youngster isn’t putting too much pressure on himself. “When you are playing for such a big side, there will be added pressure. But I have never thought about a lot of responsibility being on me. I have always concentrated on things I can control.”

With many young faces in the batting line-up, it will be a test of Karnataka’s bench strength this season. Samarth felt the youngsters are indeed capable filling in the void left by the seniors.

“They are young but I don’t think they aren’t inexperienced. They have played a lot of age-group cricket. They are good enough to play at this level. We have an extremely strong side and the bench strength is good, especially the batting,” he said.

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