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Ranji Trophy: Vinay Kumar puts Karnataka on top against Mumbai in semis

Vinay returned with figures of 6 for 20 as Mumbai, 40-time Ranji Trophy champions, were rolled over for 44 in their first innings of the semi-final encounter.

Wisden India Staff |February 25, 2015, 7:20 PM IST
Ranji Trophy: Vinay Kumar puts Karnataka on top against Mumbai in semis

A green pitch plants doubts in the minds of batsmen and makes bowlers strive for just that bit more. But, if bowlers ally discipline with verve, they are rewarded and R Vinay Kumar, the Karnataka captain, can vouch for that.

At the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Wednesday (February 25), Vinay was at his incisive best, making full use of the grassy, cracked surface to return 6 for 20 as Mumbai, 40-time Ranji Trophy champions, were rolled over for 44 in their first innings of the semifinal encounter. Earlier, Karnataka were restricted to 202 in their first innings after they opted to bat, and then, in their second innings, the openers failed to build on Vinay's devastating strikes as Karnataka ended on 10 for 2, leading by 168.

Karnataka would obviously have preferred not to lose KL Rahul and Robin Uthappa cheaply in the second innings, but they were still very much in pole position at the end of the day.

It was Mumbai's second-lowest total in the history of the tournament after their 42 against Gujarat in 1977-78. The fact that only two of Mumbai's batsmen reached double figures - Shreyas Iyer (15) and Suryakumar Yadav (12) - was a good indication of both the conditions and of how well Vinay bowled.

Mumbai's situation was worsened when Abhishek Nayar, the senior pro, suffered a concussive head injury when he took a tumble while fielding in the Karnataka first innings and had to be rushed to hospital. He didn't bat in the Mumbai innings.

While Vinay, the wrecker-in-chief, sliced through the Mumbai line-up to return his best figures for the season, S Aravind and Abhimanyu Mithun shared the remaining wickets.

The day began with Shardul Thakur making the most of the cracks on the surface to dominate proceedings. Thakur's bowling was marked by his ability to stick to good lines and extract movement in the air and off the pitch as he consistently troubled the batsmen during his 18 overs, returning 4 for 61.

Thakur struck in his third over when Rahul pulled a short one to Balwinder Singh Sandhu at fine leg. Then the in-form R Samarth was run out for three. But Uthappa and Manish Pandey shared an 81-run third-wicket stand to calm Karnataka's nerves.

Uthappa faced an eventful first few deliveries, and was lucky enough to survive a huge shout for lbw from Thakur when on eight. But, after the initial jitters, he settled down and played some pleasing drives and powerful cuts. Pandey, who walked in at No. 4, looked unsettled initially as well. He was beaten a few times and took a while to get going, but once he crossed that phase, Pandey found the boundary with audacious strokes on either side of the wicket.

Just when the partnership threatened to spoil Mumbai's early momentum, Uthappa fell to Wilkin Mota (2 for 18) in the over before lunch for 68, and there was no doubting which side would have enjoyed their meal more, with Karnataka 117 for 3 after 34 overs and two of their most pedigreed batsmen back in the hut.

Karun Nair, who got off the mark soon after the break, and Pandey upped the tempo somewhat with a couple of boundaries. But Thakur trapped Pandey in front for 34 and struck again, turning a good start to a great one, as Kunal Kapoor was sent back without disturbing the scorers. Karnataka were precariously placed at 133 for 5 at that point.

Nayar's part-time medium pace took care of CM Gautam, who had taken 31 deliveries to get off the mark, and Karnataka were in a slump when Sandhu drew an edge off Shreyas Gopal with one that moved away, safely pouched behind the stumps by Aditya Tare.

Karnataka resisted, at least for a while, as Thakur and Mota kept accurate lengths and probing lines. While Vinay struck three consecutive boundaries off Sandhu before running himself out while attempting a mindless single, Aravind was the perfect foil to Nair's aggressive approach after Suryakumar dropped him early on at second slip.

That Karnataka eventually went past the 200-run mark was mainly because of Nair's 49.

And then followed the 15.3-over mayhem that was the Mumbai innings.

Thakur and Sandhu struck again to send Uthappa and Rahul back early in the second innings. However, Karnataka would most certainly have been the happier of the two teams at the end of a day of frenetic action in Bangalore, and would believe they are well placed to continue their dream run.

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5046 120
2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 England 4366 104
4 South Africa 3177 102
5 Australia 3672 102
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 10071 258
see more