Ravikumar Samarth was trapped plumb in front of the stumps off a Shardul Thakur delivery. The bowler and his teammates behind the stumps went up in unison, confident they’ve got their man. They’d even started celebrating the fall of Karnataka’s first wicket.
But they did not realise that umpire Anil Chaudhary had asked Samarth to wait. He asked for the replay from the match referee, trying to make sure Thakur hadn’t over-stepped his run-up. The celebrations in the Mumbai camp immediately died down. They knew it was a no ball. Samarth stayed and a disillusioned Thakur went back to the start of his run-up.
This wasn’t an unfamiliar situation for the medium pacer. Thrice this season, he has got wickets off a no ball, but Saturday’s incident will hurt him and his side dearly. At that moment, Karnataka had scored 33 without losing any wicket and Samarth was batting on 13. They were chasing a massive first innings total of 436 set by Mumbai at the Wankhede. And at stumps, the visitors found themselves at a healthy position, scoring 175 for 2 and Samarth unbeaten on 85.
In their do-or-die league match, such small moments hurt Mumbai dearly as they chase another outright win to keep their slim chances of entering the knockout rounds alive. They tried for early wickets but some resilient batting by Karnataka ensured the hosts returned to the pavilion at stumps with drooping shoulders and sagging morale.
Samarth made most of the lifeline he got, looking assured in the middle. Not even once did Mumbai look like getting him after that LBW shout. He played a patient innings, forcing the bowlers to make a mistake and present him with a loose ball. Robin Uthappa, opening the innings for the visitors in place of KL Rahul, who was rested, complimented Samarth well as Karnataka tried to occupy the crease for as long as they can considering they had nothing to lose having already qualified for the knockouts.
The only time Mumbai rejoiced was in the 31st over when Uthappa was trapped in front of wickets to Harmeet Singh. The openers had stitched together a 93-run stand and that was followed by another 73-run partnership between Samarth and Kunal Kapoor. Mumbai’s off-spinner Akshay Girap bowled Kapoor out but little did Mumbai know that was their last wicket for the day. Samarth and Manish Pandey, who is yet to open his account, made sure there is no further damage done.
On the pitch that has suited the batsmen so far, Mumbai will hope for early breakthroughs on the crucial Day Three of this Ranji Trophy tie.
Brief scores: Mumbai 436 in 117.1 overs (S Lad 106, N Patil 106; RV Kumar 4/88, U Patel 3/96). Karnataka 175/2 in 60 overs (R Uthappa 49, R Samarth 85 n.o.).