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All is light without the stars

Karnataka's success this season has been based more on a sum of all parts rather than a major dose of individual brilliance.

Updated: March 18, 2014 10:14:19 am

With the Vijay Hazare Trophy under their clasp, Karnataka have now completed a rare treble in Indian domestic cricket. Along the way, they’ve had a former captain and legend gushing-even if he might not have witnessed most of their feats in person.

While in South Africa as a commentator for India’s Tests, Rahul Dravid spent an ample amount of his off-TV time checking Karnataka’s progress.

Always one for history, the former India captain would recall the two previous great eras of Karnataka cricket while lauding the achievements of Vinay Kumar’s team. He also made a point about how this present lot was a polar opposite of the ones that had dominated domestic cricket before. Dravid should know after all, having been an integral part of the power-packed side that won three out of four Ranji Trophy titles in the mid-90s.

A team that boasted of a roster full of stars, from Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad to Anil Kumble and Sunil Joshi. Just like the bunch buoyed by the likes of Erapalli Prasanna, GR Vishwanath and Bhagwath Chandrasekar that proved to be the only challengers to the dominance of Bombay and Delhi in the 1970s and 80s.

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In contrast, the present mix is bereft of a starry presence. Robin Uthappa and Kumar are the only household names and among the four to have donned India colours.

Their success this season has been based more on a sum of all parts rather than a major dose of individual brilliance. Their narrow win over Railways in the VHT final was symbolic of that with Abhimanyu Mithun chipping in with four wickets and Karun Nair holding his nerve in the chase. This, after veterans Uthappa and Kumar had led the way with bat and ball in the overall statistics.

In the Ranji Trophy, they had only one bowler in Mithun among the top 15 wicket-takers while KL Rahul with over 1000 runs was the lone man in the top-10 run-getters’ list. Crucially though, someone or the other always put their hand up when push came to shove.

Their heroes ranging from Nair scoring three back-to-back centuries leading up to the final, Kumar’s five-wicket burst against Punjab in the semi-final, and Shreyas Gopal and HS Sharath excelling with the ball in their debut seasons.

Having produced almost as many international cricketers as Mumbai and Delhi, Karnataka has historically been looked at as more a breeding ground for world-beating talent, resulting in their progress as a domestic team being overshadowed. And Dravid’s not the only one left gushing over their return.

Bharat is a principal correspondent based in Mumbai.

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