Battling Mumbai earn draw

Battling Mumbai earn draw

K V Siddharth en route to his unbeaten 71 in the Ranji Trophy game against Mumbai on Friday. DH PHOTO/ Tajuddin Azad

Karnataka adopted a safety-first approach and then pushed for an unlikely win on a flat surface. Mumbai, despite a few anxious moments, were well-equipped to eke out a fighting draw.

Without some of their key batsmen and their regular skipper R Vinay Kumar, the three points from their drawn Group A Ranji Trophy encounter is perhaps more than what Karnataka would have bargained for against a formidable opponent. While the outcome would have done a world of good to their confidence, they would also be delighted with how well they were able to overcome the absence of several first-choice players.

Let’s state first things first though. On the final day of the match, Karnataka, overnight 81/3, declared their innings closed at 170/5 from 51 overs while setting Mumbai an improbable target of 366 from a minimum of 71 overs. There were a few false dawns for Karnataka as Mumbai lost an early wicket in opener Jay Bista but then managed to forge a few partnerships. They lost three more wickets but each batsman ate into precious time to ensure that both sides mutually decided to call off the match after eight of the 15 mandatory overs here at the KSCA Stadium on Friday.

Given the nature of the pitch, Karnataka weren’t going to declare first up in the morning with 276 in front. But if they were to bat as long as 80 minutes, which is more than half the duration of the first session, they also would have known their chances of forcing a win would go down drastically. The ideal move would have been to bat as long as you could that would have given a youngster like Siddharth, who looked well on course for his second century of the match, more game time. Karnataka, however, decided to take a punt on a wrong pitch.

Mumbai’s first-innings implosion may have given them some hope but it was as much about their batsmen’s inability to apply themselves on a placid surface as it was about Karnataka’s disciplined bowling. An experienced side like Mumbai weren’t going to repeat that mistake immediately with opener Akhil Herwadkar (53, 118m, 74b, 9x4) and then Suryakumar Yadav (53 n.o., 137m, 118b, 8x4) in the middle putting on a resolute show. Yadav and Aditya Tare (29 n.o., 66m, 65b, 4x4), two of the senior-most batsmen in Mumbai and who had disappointed in the first innings by falling cheaply, stonewalled the home attack for 66 minutes in an unbroken 47-run stand for the fifth wicket to ensure an honourable draw for the visitors.     

Karnataka, who now have six points from two matches, had more than one positive to take out from the game. Paceman Ronit More ensured Karnataka didn’t miss their injured skipper while Siddharth’s century and half-century effort was perhaps the most pleasing part of their match. Coming close on the heels of rookies D Nischal and B R Sharath’s tons in their opening game against Vidarbha, Siddharth’s performance has proved that Karnataka’s supply line is healthy.

Stand-in skipper Shreyas Gopal heaped praise on Siddarth.

"He batted brilliantly. He came in at a stage where we were not very certain of getting to 400. He ensured that we got to 400. A lot of credit to him.

"I have grown up playing with him, known him for a decade. I know him inside out, as a person and a cricketer. I was fortunate to have been there when he got his hundred. He controlled the innings and was the backbone. He didn't make it feel like it was his second Ranji game. He took the ownership, took the responsibility and it was very pleasing to see."