CRICKET / Manish Pandey, Appanna back in Karnataka squad

Saurashtra discovered Dharmendrasinh Jadeja’s cunning left-arm spin helped it score an emphatic win over Madhya Pradesh in the last Group ‘A’ league match and decided to play the quarterfinal against Karnataka at a nondescript ground at the University Sports Complex here from Sunday.

Jadeja, a greenhorn in first-class cricket, turned the match on its head at the Khanderi Village venue with a six for 51 spell in the fourth innings. His splendid display on debut influenced captain Jaydev Shah to take advantage of home conditions, but at a venue that would not possibly pass muster for a top grade club game.

J. Abhiram, chairman of selectors and manager of the Karnataka team here, insisted upon the damp practice wicket — adjacent to the match pitch — to be rolled for 15 minutes before his team could use it. The local association chose the University ground as the venue because the first One-Day International against England will be played at the new venue at Khanderi on January 11 and the Municipal Corporation has allotted the Race Course ground for another match.

“Manish (Pandey who was out of the match against Maharashtra with tennis elbow) is fit. We’ve got Appanna (left-arm spinner) back in the side. There seems to be a lot of water in the pitch now (11 a.m. on Saturday). So we’ll take a call on the team tomorrow. There’s not much bounce on it (practice pitch) and I think the match strip will also be similar to the practice pitch which has a little bit more grass on it.

“The pitch here is made of black soil. I think it’ll be a slow turner. The wicket has to dry up for us to make a real assessment of it. It looks like they’ve prepared it in a day or two,” said Abhiram.

Admirable effort

It was essentially the admirable effort of the seamers — Abhimanyu Mithun, Stuart Binny and H.S. Sharath — that enabled Karnataka quell Maharashtra, and earn six points to advance to the knockout.

C.M. Gautam showed a great appetite for runs with an unbeaten 264 and Binny made 168, but the wickets taken by Mithun, Binny and Sharath were paramount.

Saurashtra skipper Shah felt there was nothing wrong with the ground. “The ground is okay, same as everywhere.  This is a new ground for both teams. Nobody knows how it will behave.

“Let’s see when the match starts. It will be a tough match for us, but we’ll have the home advantage, mentally; like we had against MP. We took a chance by having a turning track against MP which had won matches on seaming tracks and did not have good spinners. Everyone knows we have good spinners. It’s good we’ve got a youngster in Dharmendrasinh Jadeja,” said Shah.

While Shah would be banking on his spinners to put it across Karnataka, he will also need his batsmen to post a formidable score on the board and the home team has one batsman named Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored an unbeaten 203 against MP less than a week ago.

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