Karnataka captain R Vinay Kumar led from the front with a six-wicket haul as the Ranji Trophy champions gained the upperhand against the Rest of India on the first day of the Irani Cup match despite a gutsy effort from wicketkeepe-batsman Dinesh Karthik.
At stumps, Karnataka were 35 for one in reply to Rest of India’s modest first innings score of 201, which was largely due to Vinay’s outstanding figures of six for 47 from 18.4 overs. He was well complemented by all-rounder Stuart Binny who took three for 35.
Karthik, who has had an ordinary Ranji Trophy season, played a dogged innings of 91 and had couple of useful late-order partnerships with Amit Mishra (47) and Harbhajan Singh (25) that yielded 67 and 70 runs respectively.
Gautam Gambhir (22) disappointed as he was trapped leg before by Binny after having done the hard work of surviving the first hour.
Vinay ripped through ROI’s top-order before coming back in the final session to polish off the tail on a helpful track where the seamers got a lot of help off the surface. He trapped Jiwanjot Singh leg before off the very first delivery and also dismissed Baba Aparajith (2) and Kedar Jadhav (2) in the same fashion to reduce rest to 12 for three in 4.1 overs.
Vinay troubled almost all the ROI batsmen when he ran in for a fresh spell. He was nippy and constantly attacking stumps getting the ball to come back sharply into the right-handers.
Karthik, on his part, played a composed innings under pressure, facing 184 balls and cracking 14 boundaries in the process having survived a confident appeal for caught behind behind when the TV replays clearly showed that he had edged the ball to wicketkeeper CM Gautam off Vinay’s bowling.
Karnataka’s decision to field first paid rich dividends as their pacers bowled an attacking line and length on a greenish pitch to rattle the oppositon batsmen.
The visitors were at a precarious 71 for five at lunch after 31 overs after the departure of Gambhir and Mandeep Singh (5). However, they lost only one wicket while scoring 92 runs off 25 overs in second session, after losing six in the first session.
Mishra started counter-attacking the Karnataka bowlers as he hit seven fours and a big six off leggie Shreyash Gopal over long off fence.
Karthik was very cautious to begin with as he didn’t take any undue risks and was content playing the second fiddle to Mishra. He drove Abhimanyu Mithun off backfoot and then pulled him for couple of boundaries as the duo took the score past 100. Mishra however was unlucky not to get a well-deserved half century as he jabbed at wide delivery from HS Sharath to give Karun Nair a simple catch in the slips.
Karthik completed half-century soon after Mishra departed as he slogged Manish Pandey to mid-wicket boundary. After reaching half-century, Karthik opened up in company of Harbhajan Singh as he hit three boundaries in one over from Mithun where he played an on-drive, followed by a flick to mid-wicket and a pull to end the over as tea was called.
In the post-tea session, Karthik hit a couple of boundaries off Vinay to enter the 90’s but was kept quiet for some time. However Vinay removed Harbhajan who tried to flick an incoming delivery but landed straight into Ganesh Sathish’s hands. The score was 199 and Karthik then in his bid to reach the three-figure mark quickly lost his wicket.
He tried to slog Binny and Robin Uthappa dived to his left to take brilliant one-handed catch at mid-on . Vinay came back to wrap the innings quickly as he bowled couple of perfect yorkers to trap Anureet Singh leg before and bowled Pankaj Singh for ducks. Vinay stands a chance to complete a split hat-trick in the second innings off his first delivery.
Brief scores: Rest of India 201 (Karthik 91, Vinay 6-47, Binny 3-35) v/s Karnataka 35/1 (Rahul 28*)