There is no limit to R Vinay Kumar’s optimism. In the face of calamity, he is a firm believer in carving out an escape route.
The veteran, who leads the Karnataka pace attack, has just nine wickets to his name from five games this season. Despite the subdued show, Vinay has stayed relevant in the side courtesy his more than handy batting. On Wednesday here at the Chinnaswamy stadium, he once again proved his worth with the bat.
With Karnataka tottering at 166/9, in response to Rajasthan’s 224, the veteran struck an invaluable unbeaten 83 (162m, 144b, 10x4, 2x6) to help his side post 263 all out and gain a slender first innings lead of 39 runs.
When Vinay joined hands with number 11 Ronit More, he hadn’t opened his account yet. But he cleverly shepherded More to forge an alliance of 97 runs to keep their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal nicely balanced. Rajasthan, in their second essay, were 11/0 at stumps. On the third day, the uneven nature of the pitch will be a challenge for the visiting batsmen.
Leaving it late
Karnataka’s batting depth is the envy of every team. In this edition, on more than one occasion, they have struggled to start well only to recover through their gritty lower-order. But in this contest, Karnataka left it too late. Rajasthan bowlers never appeared threatening but they reaped rewards for keeping it simple. The pace duo of Aniket Choudhary (0/37) and Tanveer Ul Haq (3/50) bowled wicket-to-wicket early on.
Karnataka’s batting failure was also a result of poor shot selection.
Karun Nair (4), in two-minds whether to leave or offer a shot, poked one to the wicketkeeper off Tanveer. Skipper Manish Pandey (7) showed no feet movement and dragged a short one on to the stumps to hand Tanveer his second wicket. BR Sharath (4) showed unnecessary urgency and perished playing an uppish cover drive to leg-spinner Rahul Chahar (5/93).
The in-form K V Siddharth, who received two reprieves (on 40 & 46) timed the ball well to notch up his fifth half-century of the season. But Tanveer produced a beauty to castle the right-hander in the third over after lunch. Chahar accounted for Shreyas Gopal (25) and K Gowtham (19) and Rajasthan had stunned the sparse home crowd.
But Vinay hung on. The right-hander took his chances, slamming ten fours and two sixes, but his knock was also an example of fine planning. To mostly keep strike, he either ran hard or took a single on the fourth or fifth ball of an over. The former captain constantly encouraged More to stay calm and trust his defence.
It wasn’t the first time the duo had frustrated their opponents. In Karnataka’s Group A game against Chhattisgarh in the Alur ground, Vinay and More had put on crucial 68 runs. More played his part well. He not only offered a straight bat but also judiciously left some balls. In the end, just like the first day, Karnataka, to some extent, had outshone Rajasthan.