Karnataka falter yet again

Karnataka falter yet again

Brilliant: Kedar Devdhar of Baroda slams one to the fence en route his 123 on Wednesday. DH PHOTO/SRIKANTA SHarma r

Karnataka’s title defence of the Vijay Hazare Trophy went from bad to worse as they suffered their third defeat from four games after another pathetic performance against Baroda here on Wednesday.

Yet again it was a collective failure that proved to be their undoing, the dark clouds that hovered over the Just Cricket ground for the better part of the day mirroring their plight. Firstly, their batsmen, barring R Samarth 102 (125b, 8x4), failed to build on starts as they posted a below-par 237 all out in exactly 50 overs.

The bowlers, cut open by a pugnacious Kedar Devdhar (123, 128b, 11x4, 2x6) and subdued by an extremely cautious Deepak Hooda (62 not out, 72b, 2x4, 2x6), then gave up midway during the chase itself as Baroda coasted home in just 43.3 overs with seven wickets to spare via VJD method.

With just two points from four games, Karnataka’s hopes of qualifying for the quarterfinal knock-out stage appears all but doomed while Baroda, following their second win, stay well in contention on 10 points.

Baroda, right from winning the toss, did everything right on the day to totally pummel an out of sorts Karnataka who look a pale shadow of the team that won the title by a canter last year. Pacer Atit Seth dismissed Abhishek Reddy off the second ball of the innings and Baroda dominated proceedings from there on.

Their bowlers, especially Babasafikhan Pathan (2/38), stifled the Karnataka batsmen with tight lines and lengths on a wicket that had something for everyone. Every time the Karnataka batsmen tried to break free from the shackles, they ended up losing their wickets, falling to the guile of the Baroda bowlers.

Karnataka majorly lost the plot between the 38th to 40th over when three wickets — CM Gautam, Naveen MG and Shreyas Gopal — tumbled that reduced them to 168/6. Off-spinner K Gowtham then gave the innings a much-needed impetus with some lusty hits while Samarth, playing the anchor role to perfection, also found the extra gear.

But once their 45-run stand was broken by Seth (4/42), Karnataka retreated into a shell again. Samarth, seemingly with century in sight, slowed down considerably while skipper R Vinay Kumar struggled to get the requisite boundaries. Eventually Karnataka huffed and puffed to a total that was never going to be enough.

Devdhar, short in stature but packing a punch, then got Baroda off to a blistering start. Brilliant square of the wicket, he constantly employed the cut shot with a few of them rocketing to the fence. When Karnataka tried to keep it full, the 28-year-old opener drove with abandon to knock the stuffing out of the champions.

Karnataka thought they had a chance when they reduced Baroda to 90/2 but skipper Deepak Hooda, showing wonderful restraint, shared a match-winning 125-run stand with Devdhar to fashion a superb win.

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