Karnataka bowlers call the shots on Day 1

Karnataka bowlers call the shots on Day 1

LEFT-ARM LETHAL: J Suchith (centre) celebrates with team-mates after taking a wicket. DH Photo/ Savitha B R

Karnataka bowlers fired in unison but their batsmen’s extreme cautiousness meant they couldn’t build on the advantage substantially on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy encounter against Maharashtra here on Wednesday.

Pace bowlers R Vinay Kumar (2/19), Abhimanyu Mithun (2/42) and Ronit More (2/16) first laid the foundation by ploughing through the Maharashtra top-order in the morning session before local boy and left-arm spinner J Suchith (4/26) ran amok in a sensational spell post lunch as Maharashtra were dismissed for a paltry 113 in 39.4 overs.

With the sun out, the pitch eased up and Maharashtra seemingly in a hopeless state, the Karnataka batsmen had a great chance to put themselves firmly in the driver’s seat. But the young batsmen, finding their feet after being handed starts this season, sought watchfulness over adventure, managing to reach only 70 for three at close of play.

Lacklustre debut

Teenager Devdutt Padikkal, making his debut, started off with a slashing boundary over slips but thereafter he and D Nischal got into a shell. Padikkal, circumspect with his stroke play, lasted just 24 balls, completely missing a ball darting into his legs to be out LBW to Anupam Sanklecha for seven.

Kaunain Abbas and D Nischal then continued to bat at snail’s pace, presenting a dead bat to everything thrown at them. While Maharashtra did bowl disciplined lines and lengths, there were balls that could have been dispatched for boundaries but the duo refused to go for their shots.

The run-rate hovered at 1.5 an over and the defensive strategy, although acceptable because of the amount of time left in the game, had the tendency to backfire if they lost a couple wickets in a clutch.

They did lose Abbas in the 26th over and KV Siddharth in the 37th over but Nischal (32) was still at the crease with nightwatchman Suchith (2) as Karnataka took stumps in a tricky position.

The day though belonged to the Karnataka bowlers who made Maharashtra skipper Rahul Tripathi rue his decision to bat first. Vinay, back leading the attack after missing the previous game to injury, set the tempo by dismissing Chirag Khurana in the fifth ball of the day.

Mithun then joined the act by sending back Swapnil Gugale in the very next over to leave Maharashtra reeling at 1/2. Maharashtra could have been three wickets down very soon but Abbas dropped a regulation chance at second slip, Ruturaj Gaikwad being the beneficiary.

Ronit More, who returned to the side in style last game, then had a dream dismissal, sending Jay Pande’s stumps cart-wheeling. He soon evicted Tripathi and when Naushad Shaikh fell for two, Maharashtra were in deep trouble at 49/5.

Gaikwad and Rohit Motwani then scripted a mini fightback but Suchith’s twin blows right after lunch knocked the stuffing out of Maharashtra. The visitors though didn’t get disheartened and with Karnataka too watchful, the match still appears in the balance.