Time for Karnataka to step up

Abhimanyu Mithun, Karnataka’s pace spearhead who uses the long handle to good effect, has logged more runs than three top-order batsmen in this Ranji Trophy season.

Mithun, with 77 runs, essayed crucial cameos in the games against Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh to ensure Karnataka did not return empty handed. The seasoned campaigner’s efforts also highlights the worrying form of Karnataka’s top order. R Samarth (15 runs from two games), D Nischal (65 from three games) and Abhishey Reddy (32 from one game) have failed to provide Karnataka strong starts.

This has led to the impressive Devudtt Padikkal (290) waging lone battles with decent support from Karun Nair (171) and Shreyas Gopal (121). In their three matches so far this season, Karnataka haven’t gone past the 200-mark twice in six innings.

The story is no different when it comes to Karnataka’s bowling. K Gowtham’s one-man show against Tamil Nadu makes him the team’s highest wicket-taker at 14. In his absence, Mithun, with eight wickets, appears Karnataka’s best bet. With just five wickets between Shreyas (4) and J Suchith (1), Karnataka’s spin department too, has been toothless.

Despite sounding upbeat about his team’s chances against Mumbai in Karnataka’s fourth Group B game, Nair made a key point on the importance of firing as a unit. “It’s time that we clicked as team,” Nair told reporters here on Thursday.

“There have been innings where either the bowling has done well or our batting has clicked. Once we start doing well in both departments we will be a dangerous side,” he said.

Karnataka can look back at their last season for inspiration. They competed in the Ranji Trophy without the tag of an ‘all star’ team. As many as eight players made their debut in a season that saw them reach the semifinal. Nair felt players must see the current situation as a chance to do well, filling the big shoes of Gowtham and Mayank Agarwal and the likes.

“We have players who can cover up for big players. Some of them have been decent so far. But it’s time for them to stake their claim in the side with match-winning performances,” he said.

If there is a game in which Karnataka would want their bench strength to succeed, it is none other than this.

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