Karnataka survive mini scare

POSITIVE START: Karnataka's J Suchith (right) bagged a five-wicket haul in the second innings to finish with nine scalps in the game against Vidarbha. DH PHOTO

The scenes at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium here on Thursday weren’t far too different from the ones that took place last season in the semifinal between these two sides at the Eden Gardens.

For Karnataka, their Elite Group ‘A’ Ranji Trophy game had taken a familiar turn. The visitors’ batting imploded chasing a tricky target of 158. And in the last hour, Vidarbha were on a mission to break Karnataka’s heart again. However, the eight-time champions survived the testing final session of 31 overs – finishing at 76/6 -- to walk away with three points thanks to their first innings lead.

Vidarbha, resuming their second innings from 72 for two, folded for 228 at the stroke of tea. Ganesh Satish (79, 164b, 10x4) and Apoorv Wankhade (51, 75b, 7x4) led the fight for the defending champions. J Suchith, who impressed in the first innings, bagged a fifer (5/76), including the wickets of Satish and Wankhade, to give Karnataka a chance of collecting full points from the tie.

It was evident that Karnataka weren't ready to settle for three points when they promoted the attacking batsman B R Sharath to open the innings. The debutant, who struck a brilliant century in the first innings, fell for a first-ball duck. The right-hander attempted a lofted shot off pacer Lalit Yadav (2/12) but holed out at mid-off.

Vidarbha bowlers resembled a hunting pack as they went for the kill. Senior batsman Karun Nair, rightly pushed ahead of D Nischal, missed a ball of left-arm spinner Aditya Sarvate (4/24) on the leg side and lost balance. Substitute wicketkeeper Siddhesh Wath showed presence of mind to knock off the bails in no time.

Nair’s departure piled pressure on Karnataka and their window of opportunity evaporated. It was time to fight it out and bag the innings honours. R Samarth (30, 80b, 1x4) and debutant K V Siddharth (16, 70b, 1x4, 1x6), denied Vidarbha with a precious partnership of 31 runs. It wasn’t a smooth stay for both the batsmen in the middle but they did well to consume a good amount of time.

The young Siddharth was the one who faced the heat from the Vidarbha spinners. The defending champions hounded him by having seven fielders around him – two slips, one leg slip, a short leg, two silly points and the wicketkeeper. The 25-year-old showed great character and fine technique to combat the lethal combo of Sarvate and off-spinner Akshay Wakhare. There was the final dose of drama when Siddharth, Samarth and Stuart Binny (0) departed in the span of 21 balls but it turned out to be little too late for Vidarbha.

Karnataka, without their big guns, wouldn’t mind a start with three points with efforts of J Suchith, B R Sharath and D Nischal being the positives. But their young batting unit will only be tested more when they face the mighty Mumbai in the next game in Belagavi from November 20 without the presence of Karun Nair and R Samarth.

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Karnataka survive mini scare

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