R. Vinay Kumar had more faith in his bowlers than in the pitch. Even as eyebrows were raised at his decision to field first, the Karnataka bowlers justified the move and bowled Madhya Pradesh out for a poor 200 on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal at the Holkar Stadium here on Friday. At close, Karnataka was 35 for no loss.
Despite having received the privilege of first strike on a good pitch, MP lost its way against a sustained attack. Karnataka appeared to have read the conditions wrong when it chose to field as MP was off to a racy start. The initial indications did not augur well for the visiting team but MP contrived to toss away the advantage.
The Karnataka bowlers gave a distinguished performance, sticking to a line, with the exception of Abhimanyu Mithun, who sprayed the ball even as left-arm seamer S. Arvind came out unscathed on a pitch that had true bounce and was certainly not purely bowler-friendly.
MP's wounds were self-inflicted. After an early dent, the home team recovered, but only for a short phase before conceding ground through some senseless batting. The streak of impetuosity was infectious and the middle-order collapse reflected poorly on MP's promised-ability to match some of the best teams in the competition. Jalaj Saxena, a gritty and stylish 24-year-old opener, was the saving grace in MP's novice-like approach. Naman Ojha's stand-still defence was the first error of the day and there was no recovery as Mohnish Mishra succumbed to a casual shot and Devendra Bundela to an excellent ball that moved late. A healthy 113 for two soon read a miserable 118 for five as Abbas Ali ran himself out second ball after lunch and Saxena showed indiscretion in trying to clout Arvind. His 73 off 129 balls with 12 fours was in keeping with his excellent form this season but the shot he played was against the team's interest.
Arvind was the pick of the bowlers for Karnataka even as veteran left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi played a key part by claiming two wickets.
Madhya Pradesh — 1st innings: Naman Ojha c Gautam b Vinay 12, Jalaj Saxena c Binny b Arvind 73, Mohnish Mishra c & b Joshi 14, Devendra Bundela c Gautam b Arvind 7, Abbas Ali (run out) 0, Harpreet Singh c Joshi b Amit 23, Murtaza Ali b Vinay 2, Ankit Sharma (not out) 41, Anand Rajan lbw b Mithun 10, T. Sudhindra c Arvind b Joshi 3, Amit Sharma c Mithun b Arvind 2; Extras (b-4, lb-2, nb-2, w-5): 13; Total (in 73.5 overs): 200.
Fall of wickets: 1-42, 2-89, 3-113, 4-113, 5-118, 6-125, 7-162, 8-177, 9-195.
Karnataka bowling: Vinay 15-3-36-2, Mithun 17-1-62-1, Arvind 15.5-2-35-3, Amit Verma 10-3-17-1, Joshi 15-1-43-2, Binny 1-0-1-0.
Karnataka — 1st innings: Robin Uthappa (batting) 25, K.B. Pawan (batting) 9; Extras (b-1): 1; Total (for no loss in 14 overs): 35.
Madhya Pradesh bowling: Sudhindra 6-2-15-0, Amit 4-2-8-0, Rajan 3-1-3-0, Ankit 1-0-9-0.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy