Ranji Trophy quarters: Pacers Kaverappa, Vyshak shine as Karnataka hunt turnaround win over Vidarbha

Chasing a massive 371 to win, Karnataka were 103 for one at close of Day 4 with captain Mayank Agarwal (61) and KV Aneesh (1) at the crease.
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 13:19 IST

Nagpur: After being under the pump for three successive days, Karnataka finally found their mojo that has reinvigorated their semifinal hopes against Vidarbha on a fascinating day of cricket in their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal here on Monday.

With their backs to the wall after conceding a massive 174-run first innings lead and then watching a thoroughly professional Vidarbha reach 50/0 on Sunday evening, Karnataka needed a massive uplifting performance in a make-or-break fourth day.

And they did rise to the occasion exceptionally well at the old VCA Stadium with Vidwath Kaverappa (6/61) and Vyshak V (4/81) bending their backs and dishing out a brutal exhibition of fast bowling on a batting beauty that skittled a stunned Vidarbha for 196 in 57.2 overs.

The onus was then on the batters to carry forward the fightback and skipper Mayank Agarwal led from the front with a silken-smooth 61 not out off 77 balls as Karnataka took stumps at 103/1 in 26 overs, needing another 268 runs from 90 possible overs to set-up a semifinal against Madhya Pradesh in Indore.

While eight-time champions Karnataka, with the momentum firmly now with them, will feel confident of scripting a turnaround for the ages, they still have a mountain to climb, statistically at least. If Karnataka indeed chase down their target of 371, it would be the highest successful chase by them with the previous highest being 263 against Andhra in 2000/01. It will also be the third joint-highest run-chase ever in Ranji Trophy history.

The fact that Karnataka can even envision of making history on Tuesday was made possible by Kaverappa and Vyshak, the duo who bowled their hearts out along with V Koushik, the latter being unlucky not to get a scalp. Well aware of how important the morning session was, they went full blast, barely ever lifting their foot off the pedal.

Unlike the opening morning when they got carried away by the grass on the wicket and bowled full and a tad wide, they shortened the lengths and just kept hitting the off-stump line on Monday. Ball after ball, they kept asking difficult questions to Vidarbha batters who succumbed under the relentless pressure. Batters failed to show the gumption of the opening day and Kaverappa and Vyshak, smelling blood with every falling wicket, just flattened them with aggression and hostility.

Kaverappa, who has already shot himself into national reckoning by playing for India ‘A’, showed what a workhorse he is with 19.2 overs on the day for his 6 wickets while Vyshak churned out 14 overs for his four wickets. Kaverappa, in fact, ended up claiming his first 10-wicket match haul of his first-class career.

Agarwal and Samarth then took over to set the template with confident batting from the start. Berated by coach PV Shashikanth for lack of application in the first innings, they exhibited their class. Initially they strode out to almost every ball against the pacers to negate the swing, constantly looking for boundaries to ensure pressure was on Vidarbha.

They never allowed any bowler to settle into any sort of rhythm, picking boundaries whenever the opportunity presented and then rotating strike with quick singles to literally change the vibe in the dressing room. Although Samarth departed late in the day, the joie de vivre was back in the camp following a perfect day in the office.

Brief scores:

Vidarbha: 460 & 196 all out in 57.2 overs (Dhruv Shorey 57, Karun Nair 34; Vidwath Kaverappa 6/61, Vysakh Vijayakumar 4/81) vs Karnataka: 286 & 103/1 in 26 overs (Mayank Agarwal 61 batting, R Samarth 40).

(Published 26 February 2024, 13:19 IST)

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