Patchy Karnataka enough to pack off Mumbai

Patchy Karnataka enough to pack off Mumbai

Devdutt Padikkal's half-century at the top was crucial as Karnataka notched a five-wicket win over Mumbai. (DH FILE PHOTO)

The flurry of Karnataka wickets towards the end of the contest was just a consolation for the handful of hurting Mumbai fans at the Bandra Kurla Complex ground. The late drama couldn’t change despondent looks in the Mumbai dressing room. Experienced scribes at the venue and staunch loyalists of the domestic giants of India on social media were left with one question: what’s wrong with Mumbai cricket?   

Karnataka, ever since their first Ranji Trophy outright victory over Mumbai in the 2013-14 season, have remained unbeaten against the 41-time champions. And in their Group B game here on Sunday, they once again didn’t allow Mumbai to enjoy the taste of victory. Karun Nair’s men prevailed over the hosts by five wickets to complete their fourth win in six matches against Mumbai in the last seven seasons.   

Of the four wins, this was easily the least convincing. But upstaging an experienced Mumbai in their own backyard should boost the morale of Karnataka, who are dealing with a host of problems this season.    

Nair’s words explained the significance of his team’s win. “We have beaten Mumbai in Mumbai and there is no better feeling than that,” Karun told reporters after the game.

Mumbai, resuming from 109/5 with a lead of 85, had their last recognised batting pair in Sarfaraz Khan (71 n.o., 140b, 8x4, 2x6) and Shashank Attarde (10) in the middle. The duo’s steady start meant that the lead went past the 100-run mark but once the rookie Prateek Jain was introduced, Mumbai’s wheel unhinged in no time.

The left-arm pacer, playing just his third first-class game, produced a brilliant spell of 9-3-11-4 to take all the Mumbai wickets on offer even as Sarfaraz watched his team’s tumble from one end.

Chasing 126, Karnataka had no jitters as openers Devdutt Padikkal (50, 46b, 5x4, 2x6) and R Samarth 34 (55b, 2x4) raced to 78 in 14 overs. Padikkal played like the batsmen we have come to know. Both spinners and pacer weren’t spared as the southpaw notched up his fourth half-century of the season in as many games.  

In the second session, it was callous from Karnataka batsmen to try and knock off the remaining meagre runs by adopting a risky approach. Even though the tactic backfired, the openers’ contribution had virtually sealed the deal for Karnataka. In the 25th over, Shreyas Gopal cut off-spinner Shashank past point for four to bring up Karnataka’s 200th Ranji win, second only to Mumbai (245).  

The eight-time champions, with 16 points from four games, will next take on Saurashtra in Rajkot from January 11.

It was Mumbai’s second straight defeat of the season. To add salt to the injury, both the losses have come at home soil. Their four consecutive sub-200 totals reflect their growing batting woes.

“We failed to score big due to lack of application. We failed as unit. Maybe in the first innings, we could have batted better,” rued Mumbai captain Suryakumar Yadav.

On paper, Mumbai’s experienced batting, with the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw, Aditya Tare, Suryakumar and Siddhesh Lad, was every team’s envy. But Suryakumar had no explanation for the debacle. “It is a difficult situation to address. We have a history of coming back stronger and we will,” he said.

In recent times, Mumbai and Karnataka have fought many high-quality battles and this match doesn’t come close to those. But as the rivalry awaits new chapters, fact remains in the last decade, Karnataka have remained Mumbai’s bogey team in India’s premier domestic tournament.

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