Aswin Crist did the simple things right to be incisive on a green surface. He consistently hit a good length, bowled close to off-stump and got the ball to dart around from a strong wrist action.
Crist’s six for 31 — his best innings figures in first-class cricket — was both wily and zestful and brought about a sensational Karnataka collapse.
Supporting Crist was lively left-armer T. Natarajan, who seamed the ball from both over and round the wicket and extracted telling bounce from a quick-arm action. Natarajan scalped three.
Inserted by Tamil Nadu, the Karnataka line-up of big names and depth caved in to be dismissed for 88 on the first day of this quarterfinal match at the ACA-VDCA ground here on Friday.
Tamil Nadu was 111 for four at stumps with the experienced Dinesh Karthik (31 batting, 69b, 5x4) and skipper Abhinav Mukund (three batting) together.
Abhinav, indisposed, could not come out to open and Karnataka did make inroads. Tamil Nadu was 33 for three and among those victims was the in-form Kaushik Gandhi who nicked an away seamer from left-arm paceman S. Arvind.
Then, Dinesh Karthik, standing outside the crease to counter the movement, and the smooth-stroking Vijay Shankar strung together the biggest partnership of the day with some judicious strokeplay.
But then, the 70-run association ended in a senseless run-out when Vijay Shankar (34, 61b, 3x4) was caught well short by a direct hit by Kaunain Abbas from point.
Then, with Karthik on 31, Karnataka lost a huge opportunity when ‘keeper C. M. Gautham, running towards square-leg, lost the ball after the right-hander top-edged paceman Vinay Kumar.
In the first half of the day, the Karnataka batsmen should have ‘left’ a lot more on a seaming track. And when playing strokes, emphasis must have been on firm pushes, than big drives, in the ‘V’.
Footwork and the ability to read the length, pick the line and cover for the movement cannot be overemphasised while batting in these conditions. Several Karnataka batsmen either played away from the body or across the line.
K. L. Rahul’s willow was not really near his frame when he edged Natarajan into the slip cordon. On a surface where batsmen essentially needed to play straight, both Manish Pandey and Stuart Binny were dismissed playing across to Crist.
The busy Crist also prised out Karun Nair, fresh from a Test triple century, with a delivery that moved away. Even if Karun seemed to be struggling with lower abdominal pain — he will undergo a scan at night — it was incomprehensible why Abhimanyu Mithun was sent at No. 5. If the ploy was to disrupt the Tamil Nadu attack and scatter the field, it was unlikely to come off in the match’s first session on this track.
Tamil Nadu was not complaining though. Still, there’s plenty of cricket left in this game.