Nischal makes it count

D Nischal’s patient century bailed Karnataka out of trouble against Vidarbha  

One of the special abilities of a defensive batsman is to bring calmness to the chaos. An attacking approach can be game-changing. But when the chips are down, especially in the longer format, teams require someone to survive the testing period with grit.

In Karnataka’s Ranji Trophy opener here against defending champions Vidarbha, their batting crumbled against quality spin bowling. Responding to hosts’ 307 all out, a first innings lead looked distant when they were reduced to 149/5. But D Nishcal’s gutsy 113 and his 160-run alliance with the attacking BR Sharath put Karnataka on top.

Nishcal took his own sweet time to settle in and that’s just what the doctor ordered for Karnataka. Vidarbha were in a hurry to bundle out their opponents. The visitors needed to slow the proceedings and stage a recovery. The quick fall of wickets didn’t snuff Nischal’s determination. He judiciously left the balls, exhibited solid defence and focused hard.  

“My plan was to play as straight as possible, especially against their spinners. My job in the team is to hold one end. I have been asked to play the anchor role. I just wanted to bat throughout and I am glad I did,” Nischal explained.

Nischal had been knocking on the doors of the senior state team with consistent performances in age-group tournaments in the last couple of years. With Karnataka set to miss their key players for majority of the group stage this season, it’s a good chance for Nischal to make a big impression.

“Last season was a decent one for me. It was a debut season. This year of course I will get more chances and youngsters like me have to prove that Karnataka cricket has a great set of upcoming players. I am ready to shoulder the responsibility,” he said.  

Knocks like these may not be easy-on-the-eye. Nischal wasn’t free flowing. Consuming 339 balls, with a strike rate of 33.43 and staying 484 minutes at the middle, it was all hard work. While the style is suited when a side is setting up a total it can be troublesome if the team is chasing a target.

Last season, in the all-important Ranji Trophy semifinal, Nischal went into a shell and his 44-ball seven mounted pressure on Karnataka, who were chasing a target of 198 on a difficult pitch. Perhaps a slight improvement in his strike rate during chases can augur well for Nischal. The right-handed opener though said he isn’t too concerned about it now. 

“It’s multi-day cricket so strike rate doesn’t matter. I haven’t thought too much (strike rate) about it and I don’t think I will change my game,” he said.

Chandrakant Pandit, Vidarbha’s coach, felt experience will help Nischal in planning his innings better. “Of course he can improve on creating more scoring shots. But he is still new and he will surely learn. Every player needs the confidence of having scored big runs, once you have done that, you can think of changing your style,” he said.

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Nischal makes it count

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