Ranji Trophy: Batters leave Karnataka high and dry

Karnataka’s batters needed to come to the party for them to gain some control of the contest at the old VCA Stadium.
Last Updated 25 February 2024, 21:23 IST

Nagpur: The relentlessness of Vidarbha finally looks to bear fruit as they rode on plenty of graft and some slices of luck to pin down Karnataka and take a huge stride into the semifinals of the Ranji Trophy here on Sunday.

Resuming the Moving Day of an attritional quarterfinal at 98/2 in response to Vidarbha’s 460 all out, Karnataka’s batters needed to come to the party for them to gain some control of the contest at the old VCA Stadium. But barring a valiant 82 from vice-captain Nikin Jose and a doughty 59 from R Samarth, the rest made errors galore as they ended up getting bowled for 286 an hour after tea that has all but ended their last-four hopes.

While Vidarbha, who took stumps at 50/0 for an overall lead of 224 runs, were professional to core for the third straight day. They bowled to a plan while creating pressure with every ball with no little help from the chirping close-in fielders and constant appeals. Karnataka would also feel hard done by three debatable decisions that went against them.

First it was Samarth, who was batting beautifully until he was adjudged LBW by umpire Nanda Kishore in the 34th over. The right-hander, in wretched form this season and literally batting to keep his spot in the side alive, stepped down to spinner Harsh Dubey but completely missed the ball which struck his toes. Vidarbha players instantly went up in arms and Kishore, after a long thought, raised his index finger that had Samarth livid, and rightfully so. He was so far down the track, it’s hard to predict whether the ball would have hit the stumps. 

Then came another dodgy call just at the stroke of tea. Wicketkeeper S Sharath, who was forging an obdurate 53-run partnership with Jose for the sixth wicket, went for a sweep for a ball down the leg by Aditya Sarvate. Sharath failed to get a good connection and Vidarbha keeper Akshay Wadkar, after catching the ball, instantly appealed. Umpire Kishore, after a bit of ponder, raised his hands that left Sharath shocked.

Having seen both howlers from the other end, Jose was the recipient of the third. Trying to up the ante in pursuit of a century, the right-hander went for a reverse-sweep against Sarvate. Jose missed the ball but not before getting what seemed like an inside edge. Vidarbha players appealed and Kishore raised his dreaded finger. Jose stood stunned, raising his bat to indicate an edge.

Although the decisions didn’t go their way, Karnataka have only themselves to blame considering the shoddy batting overall, former skipper Manish Pandey being the prime culprit on the day. The right-hander offered no defence whatsoever to the impressive Yash Thakur (3/48), the ball dismantling his stumps. Teenagers Hardik Raj and Dheeraj Gowda, whose all-round talents have been spoken about highly in the state, just wilted under big-stage pressure.

Vidarbha deserve all the plaudits for sticking to their plan on a pitch that is still good for batting. Every time Karnataka staged a fightback, first through Samarth and Jose and then through Sharath and Jose, they didn’t lose focus but just kept bowling those tidy lines and lengths, knowing discipline will bring the desired results. It did in the end, albeit through some good fortune. As the cliche goes, fortune favours the brave and Vidarbha were.

(Published 25 February 2024, 21:23 IST)

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