Ranji Trophy semifinal | Karnataka aims to make Bengal see stars

On the job: Manish Pandey leads teammates at a practice session at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday.

On the job: Manish Pandey leads teammates at a practice session at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: G_P_Sampath Kumar

Rahul’s presence makes it near full-strength line-up

The availability of the world-class K.L. Rahul for the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Bengal gives Karnataka a big boost, says all-rounder K. Gowtham.

Rahul joins the likes of Manish Pandey, Karun Nair and Devdutt Padikkal to form a formidable batting line-up to take on Bengal at Kolkata on Saturday. Mayank Agarwal, who is part of the Indian Test side in New Zealand, is the only notable absentee in an otherwise full-strength unit.

Interesting read: K.L. Rahul enters record books in wicketkeeping gloves

Big boost

“Rahul coming back is a big boost. We will definitely look to capitalise on that,” Gowtham said at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Thursday.

"If Bengal starts thinking about the big names in our squad, they’ll end up putting pressure on themselves.

“There’s no doubt that having world-class players like Rahul gives us more confidence, but on any given day, it’s about going out there and expressing yourself,” he said.

Gowtham was all praise for the character that the side showed in the quarterfinal against Jammu & Kashmir. Karnataka bounced back from a precarious situation to steal the first-innings lead, before Gowtham wreaked havoc with a seven-for haul in the second innings to seal a 167-run victory.

“More than the win, the character we showed in defending the 200-odd first-innings total was great. Jammu & Kashmir was around 100 for two on a batting-friendly pitch, but the way our pacers and (left-arm spinner) J. Suchith bowled showed the character of the team.

“And the way we batted in the second innings (Karnataka made 316) — if we can continue doing that, we can bring the Ranji Trophy back home,” the 31-year-old said.

Karnataka will look to overcome the semifinal stumbling block it faced in the previous two editions of the tournament.

Almost there...

Incidentally, Eden Gardens was the venue where the unit suffered a narrow five-run, last-four defeat to eventual champion Vidarbha in 2017. A year later, on home turf, Karnataka was knocked out in the semifinal by Saurashtra.

"We have lost two close semifinals in the last two years, and I played both those games.

“It hurt us very badly. At the same time, we have learnt a lot from those defeats. The past is the past," Gowtham said.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 12:00:56 PM |

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