Ranji Trophy: Prateek Jain's four-for rattles Railways

Ranji Trophy: Prateek Jain's four-for rattles Railways

Prateek Jain

In conditions suited for bowlers of the skiddy variety, Prateek Jain was made to look very good as Railways’ batsmen ill-assessed their own backyard and paid the price on the opening day of their Elite Group 'B' Ranji Trophy contest here on Monday. 

Arindam Ghosh’s worst nightmare manifested when the flip of the coin went Karun Nair’s way at the Karnail Singh stadium. Understandably so, after the first session didn’t see a ball bowled due to extreme fog and light drizzle. Nair, thankfully not in a mood to experiment, gave his fang-baring bowlers a go at Railways’ jugular and they responded with blood. 

Left-arm seamer Jain bagged four wickets (13-7-14-4) and A Mithun finished with two to reduce Railways to 98 for 6 in 49 overs at stumps. Ronit More, though wicketless, bowled tight lines and ensured the opponents didn’t get many loose balls to free up with. In fact, the pacers combined only conceded four boundaries. 

The bulk of Railways’ runs came during Shreyas Gopal’s inconsistent spells, and K Gowtham, back in the side after a gap of four games due to a hairline fracture on the foot, wasn’t incisive. Both the spinners were guilty being too quick through the air, and the leg-spinner was especially poor even with his lengths.   

The opening day’s assessment also cannot leave out the fact that Karnataka should have played V Koushik, the paceman. Though not as quick off the deck as Jain, Koushik’s ability to get the ball to seam would have proved vital here. 

But now that Karnataka are in a position of command, Nair won’t want to dwell on the call. Instead, the returning skipper will look back fondly on a day when Karnataka shone bright when the conditions offered little warmth. 

With the sun out of action till about noon, there was no play to be had, and when play did kick off Ashish Sehrawat committed the mistake of cutting a ball from A Mithun instead of fending it with a straight bat. The result was a thick outside edge to Sharath Srinivas, the 'keeper, and Railways down a wicket with five runs on board.

Thereon, the Jain train went on a spree, felling victims by hitting the areas which forced the ball to stay low, very low. After trapping Mrunal Devdhar in front of the stumps, he accounted for Saurabh Singh, Mahesh Rawat and Dinesh Mor, including two wickets in an over. In each of his last three wickets, the delivery came in with the angle, naturally so for Jain, and rose none more than ankle-height before crashing into the stumps.  

Railways were let down by their reading and preparation. To make matters worse, Harsh Tyagi’s half-hearted flick ended up being so fine that it carried to Sharath Srinivas off Mithun. 

Down six for 45 runs, Railways needed some resistance. Karnataka, known to let the lower middle-order off the hook, relented, allowing Arindam Ghosh (32 n.o.) and Avinash Yadav (29 n.o.) to settle in with an unbroken 53-run partnership. Which is why Nair and Co weren’t particularly amused when the umpires suspended play twice, once at 4.15 pm and finally at 5.10 pm. Then, upon understanding the futility of the wait, they called stumps.