Bowlers have a ball at the BKC

Bowlers have a ball at the BKC

V Koushik was the star as Karnataka bowled Mumbai out for 194 on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy encounter on Friday. DH FILE PHOTO

A good beginning is half done. It’s a lesson Karnataka learnt on the first day’s play of their fourth Group B Ranji Trophy game against Mumbai.

Skipper Karun Nair had stressed on the eve of the match that toss doesn’t matter as Karnataka had their plans in place irrespective of the outcome of the flip. The proceedings on the first day nearly vindicated Nair’s statement. Karnataka, following a below-par performance against minnows Himachal Pradesh, performed like a team with clarity and vigour after electing to bowl at the Bandra Kurla Complex ground on Friday.  

Their interesting decision to field a pace-heavy unit turned out to be fruitful as the four-pronged attack of Abhimanyu Mithun (2/48), V Koushik (3/45), Ronit More (2/47) and Prateek Jain (2/20) conjured firepower to bowl out Mumbai for 194 in two sessions.   

When Karnataka sized up their opponents’ top-order, it appeared like Mumbai were yet to recover from their shock 10-wicket drubbing at the hands of Railways. At 60/6 in the 25th over, the hosts were staring at a quick finish to their first innings. Captain Suryakumar Yadav (77, 94b, 10x4, 2x6), the man of the season across formats for the 41-time champions, anchored their fightback. 

Karnataka openers R Samarth (40 batting) and Devdutt Padikkal (32) magnified the advantage handed by the pacers with a healthy opening start of 68 but the script changed in Mumbai’s favour in the dying moments of the day. The hosts staged a comeback not many saw coming. The gifted Shams Mulani (2/13) bagged two wickets in the span of three balls.

Padikkal was trapped leg before wicket while attempting a defence of the backfoot. The left-arm spinner drew Abhishek Reddy forward (0) to induce an edge to Sarfaraz Khan at silly point. Shashank Attarde injected more belief in the Mumbai camp by dismissing Rohan Kadam (4). The debutant, on the backfoot, was half-hearted in his push and handed a catch to Sarfaraz at silly point.  

Samarth and Nair (0), who will resume on Saturday at 79/3, will dread the first-hour after being witness to Mumbai’s struggle in the morning. The prediction of a sporting wicket from both captains stood true. While the pacers called the shot for Karnataka, spinners did the trick for Mumbai.

“I didn’t expect the ball to turn like that on the first day. We were sure of playing three spinners. Batsmen will have to apply really well to make runs here,” said Suryakumar.  

The fast bowling unit, which maintained a fine discipline, was Karnataka’s biggest positive. They tested Mumbai’s patience and forced the batsmen to err. Aditya Tare (0), out caught behind, drove away from the body to fall for a first-ball duck off Koushik. India international Ajinkya Rahane (7) was far more circumspect than required and played a nothing shot off More. Wicketkeeper BR Sharath pouched a brilliant diving catch to his right. Siddhesh Lad’s half-cock shot saw his stumps rattled as More completed a double-wicket over.

The naturally attacking Prithvi Shaw (29) was far from free-flowing and dragged one on to the stumps off Mithun.

Suryakumar’s courageous knock, filled with exciting shots typical of the right-hander, saved Mumbai the embarrassment. Some amount of luck and a slight dip in the intensity of Karnataka’s bowling allowed the 29-year-old to stitch an 88-run stand for the eighth wicket with Shashank (35).

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