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The Hindu
The Hindu
N. Sudarshan

Ranji trophy | Karnataka begins its campaign with a seven-wicket win over Punjab

 Karnataka ensured a positive start to its 2023-24 Ranji Trophy campaign by registering a seven-wicket win over Punjab at the KSCA Rajnagar Stadium here on Monday.

The only grouse the home side will have is the failure to grab the bonus point that comes with an innings victory or a 10-wicket triumph, for Karnataka first let go of a humongous 362-run first-innings lead and then couldn’t chase down the 52-run target with all wickets intact.

Skipper Mayank Agarwal bagged a pair, Nikin Jose fell cheaply for a second straight occasion and first-innings centurion Devdutt Padikkal — the player of the match — couldn’t bat as he had spent all morning off the field owing to a stomach bug. But R. Samarth (21, 38b, 4x4) and Sharath Srinivas (21 n.o., 47b, 1x4, 1x6) calmed the nerves and carried their team home.

The victory, though, was set-up by the bowlers in the morning. Speedsters V. Vyshak, V. Koushik and Vidwath Kaverappa softened Punjab’s overnight batters Mandeep Singh and Nehal Wadhera with some incisive spells before the left-arm tweakers Rohit Kumar and Shubhang Hegde struck gold.

Debutant and Hubballi lad Rohit, who had struggled on day three with his lengths, finally landed one in the right spot to rearrange captain Mandeep’s stumps. At the other end, Wadhera confidently walked into a shot but ended up spooning a return catch to Shubhang.

Wicket-keeper Gitansh Khera (43, 81b, 6x4) and Mayank Markande (36, 67b, 6x4) combined for a 61-run partnership for the seventh wicket, with the former executing some fine sweep shots. An overdose of the stroke, however, led to his downfall as Rohit slid one through to castle him and be Karnataka’s breakthrough man again.

India pacer Arshdeep Singh swung freely to smash three fours and three sixes (36, 34b, 3x4, 3x6), and forced Karnataka to bat again. But Mayank Agarwal had men stationed in the deep for false hits and it was not long before Arshdeep holed out at deep mid-wicket.

No. 11 Baltej Singh played a cameo of his own (22, 10b, 2x4, 2x6), but none could deny Karnataka the six points.

The scores:

Punjab – 1st innings: 152.

Karnataka – 1st innings: 514 for eight decl.

Punjab – 2nd innings: Abhishek Sharma b Samarth 91, Prabhsimran Singh b Kaverappa 100, Naman Dhir c Rohit b Shubhang 20, Mandeep Singh b Rohit Kumar 27, Nehal Wadhera c & b Shubhang 26, Gitansh Khera b Rohit Kumar 43, Prerit Dutta lbw b Shubhang 0, Mayank Markande st. Sharath b Rohit 36, Siddharth Kaul c Sharath b Kaverappa 0, Arshdeep Singh c Mayank b Vyshak 36, Baltej Singh (not out) 22; Extras (b-1, lb-8, nb-3): 12; Total (in 114.4 overs): 413.

Fall of wickets: 1-192, 2-192, 3-220, 4-268, 5-273, 6-285, 7-346, 8-347, 9-389.

Karnataka bowling: Kaverappa 24-3-59-2, Koushik 20-6-45-0, Vyshak 21-3-93-1, Rohit 22.4-3-101-3, Shubhang 18-1-89-3, Samarth 9-3-17-1.

Karnataka - 2nd innings: R. Samarth c Prabhsimran b Dutta 21, Mayank Agarwal c Dhir b Baltej 0, Nikin Jose c Wadhera b Dutta 0, S. Sharath (not out) 21, Manish Pandey (not out) 10; Total (for three wkts. in 17 overs): 52.

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-9, 3-31.

Punjab bowling: Arshdeep 1-0-8-0, Baltej 4-2-12-1, Dutta 7-3-10-2, Abhishek 1-0-2-0, Dhir 4-0-20-0.

Karnataka won by seven wkts.; Points: Karnataka 6 (6), Punjab 0 (0).

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