Ranji Round 5 Preview: Karnataka look to better slow start

A point of consideration more unsettling than lack of crowd support has been the decision of the Karnataka team management this season is to rotate Robin Uthappa and their first-choice gloveman, CM Gautam, as wicketkeepers, at the behest of the head of the state board, Brijesh Patel.

Robin Uthappa during the practice session on the eve of Ranji Trophy league match at Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.   -  The Hindu

A lacklustre outing by Karnataka in the previous round of the Ranji Trophy culminated in Robin Uthappa, their senior batsman and occasional wicketkeeper, expressing disapproval at the heckling of the crowd at his team’s home venue, Mysore. After having conceded a sizeable first innings lead against Haryana, the defending champions had scraped on the final day to avoid a defeat.

A point of consideration more unsettling than lack of crowd support has been the decision of the team management this season to rotate Uthappa and their first-choice gloveman, CM Gautam, as wicketkeepers, at the behest of the head of the state board, Brijesh Patel.

In four participated games so far, Karnataka have been unable to garner a single victory, and sit mid-table with four draws. In the only match they had dominated outright, Bengal thwarted their winning plans with fierce resistance in the second innings to carve out a draw. The slow start will not matter if the unit peaks at the right time, towards the latter half of the tournament.

In the upcoming fifth round, they face Rajasthan, the 2010-11 champions, who, with five points from four games, are positioned second from bottom in Group A. Their misfiring batting has been uplifted by consistent scoring from captain and top-order batsman Ashok Menaria, who currently sits third in terms of runs in the batting charts, with a hundred and two fifties.

The leader of the charts, Shreyas Iyer, has shouldered the batting responsibilities of Mumbai, who sit at the top of the Group B table. Iyer was central to their win against an impressive Tamil Nadu, after they looked to be heading for a defeat with a 140-run deficit in the first innings at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai. It prevented two wins out of three for Tamil Nadu, who have dominated for lengthy periods all of their matches so far.

They face Railways next, at the latter team’s home venue, the Karnail Singh Stadium in New Delhi, for their fourth fixture.

In Group C, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja has caught the eye for his awe-inspiring success in the three matches his team, Saurashtra, has played. Saurashtra have profited from Jadeja’s exploits: with three wins out of three they sit at the top of the table in Group C. His haul of 37 wickets has been recognised with his inclusion in the Test squad for South Africa.

With the Tests beginning only on November 5, he is expected to feature in his team’s next game, against Services, a side positioned next to them, at the second spot, in the table.

Haryana, in Group A, will also have the services of their star, Virender Sehwag, who is scheduled to fulfill his Cricket All-Stars commitments only at the completion of the upcoming match against Bengal.

Among poor starts in the competition, Hyderabad’s has been stark. They currently languish second from bottom, with three points, above Tripura, featuring in Group C for the last two seasons. In the upcoming round, they host Jammu and Kashmir, who have had a similarly mediocre start, but will be resurgent and hopeful after their dominance against Tripura.

Fixtures:

Group A

Haryana vs Bengal, Rohtak

Rajasthan vs Karnataka, Jaipur

Vidarbha vs Maharashtra, Nagpur

Odisha vs Delhi, Bhubaneshwar

Group B

Baroda vs Madhya Pradesh, Vadodara

Gujarat vs Uttar Pradesh, Valsad

Punjab vs Andhra, Patiala

Railways vs Tamil Nadu, Delhi

Group C

Himachal Pradesh vs Tripura, Dharamsala

Hyderabad vs Jammu and Kashmir, Hyderabad

Jharkhand vs Goa, Jamshedpur

Services vs Saurashtra, Delhi

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