Young guns deliver for Karnataka

Young guns deliver for Karnataka

Prasidh, Pradeep have admirably slipped into big shoes

Young guns deliver for Karnataka

During their dominance in the period between 2013 and 2015, the wealth of experience gave Karnataka the edge over their opponents. Each slot covered with specialists, the southern giants were  the  envy of other domestic teams.

The national call-ups of some players  and  the alarming rate of injuries to few key players, hurt Karnataka's chances in subsequent seasons as they underwent a phase of transition. Considering such a scenario, their third Vijay Hazare Trophy triumph couldn't have come at a better time. The tournament showcased Karnataka's quality bench strength as  they succeeded despite a handful of inexperienced but talented players in their ranks.

Manish Pandey's national commitments and the management's decision to rest Stuart Binny for the group stage opened the doors for youngsters like Pavan Deshpande and Aniruddha Joshi. The middle-order appeared fragile but Deshpande, with 310 runs, showed great maturity to stitch crucial partnerships throughout the tournament.

The lack of experience was glaring in the pace department, especially in the knockouts. Captain R Vinay Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun and S Arvind played a combined seven matches for varying reasons. Karnataka went in with young blood and they delivered. The right-arm pace duo of Prasidh Krishna (17 wickets) and T Pradeep (8 wickets) filled in big shoes with aplomb.

"The title is a proud moment for Karnataka cricket. The team showed that it's no longer dependent on seniors and that's exactly what I wanted. Prasidh should have been in the Ranji Trophy team a couple of years back but unfortunately he didn't get the opportunity. But it was good for him because he is a much matured and a better bowler now," said Vinay.

Coach P V Shashikanth is a relieved man and he sees Prasidh and Pradeep as the future of Karnataka cricket. "We had worked with these boys in junior cricket. We knew what they were capable of. I have seen Prasidh's potential, he would run through sides. This is a smooth transition. We played without Manish and Vinay in the knockouts and that shows how much we have worked with the second line," offered Shashikanth.

Making the opportunities count will be the key for these youngsters. Players like Karun Nair, R Samarth, Mayank Agarwal and Shreyas Gopal are in their mid-20s but they have great amount of experience. Agarwal, in particular, owned the season.

"It was a question of self-belief with Mayank. We persisted with him despite the two ducks (against Hyderabad in Ranji Trophy) and that gave him a sense of security. We knew he would have a good season but never thought he would break records like this. We never curbed his stroke-making instincts and didn't criticise him harshly when he failed," explained Shashikanth.

Prasidh and Pradeep asserted that they never felt the pressure of handling a big responsibility. "Our batsmen would post big totals and that helped us. I bowled in the right areas and keep things tight early on and then tried my variations in the death overs," said Prasidh.

Pradeep said he wants to keep improving as a player. "Now the management trusts us. I feel we will get more chances. Arvind (Sreenath) has retired and that puts extra responsibility on us," he said.

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