Karnataka stare at innings defeat

Karnataka stare at innings defeat

Pacer and skipper Jaydev Unadkat claimed a five-for to put Saurashtra in command against Karnataka in their Ranji Trophy match on Monday. DH File Photo

Karnataka’s inexperienced batting line-up expectedly came a cropper against the guile of seasoned pacer Jaydev Unadkat with the visitors staring at the prospect of a morale-shattering innings defeat against Saurashtra in a Group B Ranji Trophy affair.

With not a single centurion in four completed matches so far and a highest team score of 336, it was always going to be a Herculean challenge for Karnataka to come anywhere close to the 581/7 Saurashtra posted in their first innings at the Madhavarao Scindia Cricket Ground. And with a line-up where some are trying to find form and some returning following lengthy injury lay-offs, it seemed a next-to-impossible task.

Wily left-arm pacer Unadkat, who has been in brilliant form this season with two six-wicket hauls in three games, was well aware of Karnataka’s inadequacies. The 28-year-old, already having prised out in-form opener Devdutt Padikkal on the second evening, produced a fine exhibition of seam bowling, bagging 5/49 to skittle out Karnataka for 171 in 79 overs. With just three and a half sessions left in the game, the pacer had no hesitation in asking the visitors to follow-on, who managed to take stumps at 30/0. Although they withstood the third evening without any damage, the final day will be one big test of character with Saurashtra favourites to wrap up their third win.

Unadkat took a while in the morning to get his engines running. He bowled two short spells comprising three overs in total as overnight batsman R Samarth (63, 174b) and Rohan Kadam negotiated the opening 45 minutes doggedly. Unadkat then hit top gear in his third spell (4-0-5-2) with some vintage bowling to kick-start Karnataka’s collapse.

Moving the ball both ways, he constantly preyed on the decision-making of the batsmen. A couple came in, a couple moved away and a couple just hung around the off-stump. All this from either good length area or slightly full length. Although the pace wasn’t searing, the accuracy was compelling. The examination was a stern one for the inexperienced Karnataka lot and barring Samarth, they all duly succumbed without much of a fight.

The first to depart was Kadam, the left-hander poking at a teaser around his off-stump. K V Siddharth, playing his first match after recovering from an injury, lasted a mere 11 balls, jutting his bat out to an away going delivery. Karnataka were reeling 44/3 at that stage and a quick end seemed inevitable.

Pavan Deshpande and later Shreyas Gopal hung around for a while with Samarth but they looked circumspect during their vigils. Spinners Kamlesh Makwana (3/27) and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (1/51) complemented Unadkat with parsimonious bowling, creating pressure from both ends for Karnataka.

When Karnataka were reduced to 93/6 in the second session, a quick finish looked imminent. Samarth and Pravin Dubey (46 n.o, 106b) forged a 39-run stand for the seventh wicket when Unadkat returned to hasten the end. He dismissed Samarth with a teaser and J Suchith with a beauty in quick succession and thereafter the end was inevitable.

Karnataka showed some gumption in the second innings and plenty of that would be needed on Tuesday to save themselves from a chastening defeat.

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