Arunkumar: 'One of the biggest shocks I have endured'

A day after Karnataka's whirlwind defeat to Tamil Nadu in the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy, coach J. Arunkumar described the result as "one of the biggest shocks" of his coaching career.

ArunKumar Vinay Kumar

Karnataka coach J. Arunkumar and captain Vinay Kumar were left ruing after the team crashed out of Ranji Trophy in the quarterfinals.   -  C.V. Subrahmanyam

A day after Karnataka's whirlwind defeat to Tamil Nadu in the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy, coach J. Arunkumar described the result as “one of the biggest shocks” of his coaching career. The 41-year-old felt there was no lack of passion in the side, and instead expressed his disappointment with the playing surface at Vishakhapatnam.

“It's one of the biggest shocks for me...with this formidable team,” he said here on Sunday. “Nine batsmen have first-class hundreds; A. Mithun has an 89 and S. Arvind a 50. How does it happen that everyone gets out in one game? We were all focused. It was not that the passion was lacking.”

READ: >Tamil Nadu tames Karnataka in two days

Arunkumar was far from impressed with the green top rolled out at the ACA-VDCA stadium. “Certain balls were unplayable,” he said. “You were never settled on this wicket. You had to take calculated chances like K.L. Rahul did, stepping out and playing over the top. He upper-cut deliveries that were coming to his face. Not everybody can do that. Players said in-swingers were going out and out-swingers were cutting in. But all said and done, Tamil Nadu played better cricket than us in all departments.”

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Karnataka's bowlers evidently did not have the same impact that their counterparts did. Mithun, who has had a hard time with injury this season, was by all accounts not at his best in Vishakhapatnam.

Arunkumar was not enthused by how things panned out. “A lot of people are questioning the credibility of his fitness,” he said. “Even I felt he could have bowled faster. It's a very delicate issue. The player says he's fit and after the first over there are aches and pains. So he's not giving 100%. That's bad for the team. That shouldn't happen. In the end, it's for Karnataka, it's not about an individual. Whoever is playing should be 100% or they should make way for others. We have other people; David Mathias is waiting in good form. People should start realizing that if they don't feel 100%, they should be honest enough to say: 'It's a big game, I'm not ready for it.' They can't let down the state. There are so many aspirations. You shouldn't be individualistic. But he was fit. The previous day also he was fit. He bowled really fast in the practice sessions. I don't know what happened in the game.”

Looking back on the season, Arunkumar felt Karnataka had played reasonably well, notching up five outright wins in the league stages. “We played better than last year,” he said. “The intent was good. It was hurting them that they lost last year. We could see it in the way the boys spoke. The net sessions were very serious; it wasn't that we were fooling around. Even in this game, we played the best team possible. But we couldn't do much.”