It has been damp and overcast in Bangalore all through last week. On the eve of Karnataka's Elite Group A Ranji Trophy fixture with Saurashtra, the pitch at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium wore a thin coat of green, and with the gloom overhead, was still moist, said curator Narayan Raju.
In such circumstances, although not entirely debilitated, Karnataka will be hard-hit by the absence of its successful new-ball pair. Abhimanyu Mithun was called up to the Indian team on Monday evening — hours after he had trained with his State team-mates at the KSCA ‘B' ground — where he will join Karnataka's regular captain Vinay Kumar.
Medium-pacer S.L. Akshay and spin-bowling all-rounder Sunil N. Raju will likely start in their places. N.C. Aiyappa will replace Mithun in the 15-member squad.
At the head of the group after taking three points off Mumbai earlier this month, Karnataka will look to continue its gilded run in the competition, the opponent's corking innings-defeat of Punjab notwithstanding.
Manish Pandey, whose unbeaten double hundred set up that result, may have been ruled out (for a good while) after his hernia surgery, but Bharat Chipli is an able replacement.
Besides, K.B. Pawan, Robin Uthappa, Amit Verma, and Stuart Binny — who did not practise on Monday due to a stomach bug — have all been among the runs.
Saurashtra too has lost recent triple-centurion Ravindra Jadeja to the Indian team, but will welcome Cheteshwar Pujara back from a lengthy layoff. The visitor rebounded with the win over Punjab after a lukewarm beginning to the season, and will look for more points here.
The onus of leading Karnataka's bowling group will now fall on S. Arvind's shoulders. Like the 27-year-old, opponents Jaydev Unadkat and Siddarth Trivedi too will look forward to bowling on Tuesday
Karnataka: Ganesh Satish (Captain), Robin Uthappa, K.B. Pawan, Bharat Chipli, Amit Verma, Stuart Binny, C.M. Gautham, K.P. Appanna, N.C. Aiyappa, S. Arvind, S.K. Moinuddin, Sunil N. Raju, S.L. Akshay, K. Gowtham, Karun Nair.
Saurashtra: Jaydev Shah (Captain), Sagar Jogiyani, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shitanshu Kotak, Nayan Doshi, Chirag Pathak, Bhushan Chauhan, Arpit Vasavda, Sheldon Jackson, Kamlesh Makwana, Pratik Mehta, Sandip Maniar, Jayesh Odedra, Jaydev Unadkat, Siddharth Trivedi .