Ranji Trophy: Consistent Samarth bullish on Karnataka's title chances

R. Samarth has racked up 643 runs (at an average of 64.3), and sits seventh on the list of highest run-scorers in the tournament.

Karnataka's R. Samarth during a practice session at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday.   -  Sudhakara Jain.

While Mayank Agarwal has enjoyed a record-breaking run this Ranji Trophy season, his Karnataka opening partner R. Samarth has been at his consistent best.

Samarth has racked up 643 runs (at an average of 64.3), and sits seventh on the list of highest run-scorers in the tournament. The technically-correct batsman has established himself as a solid presence at the top of the order.

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Samarth is pleased that he has been able to convert starts to big scores. In the previous season, even though he topped the charts for his side with 702 runs, he got past the century-mark only once (career-best 235 against Jharkhand). This year, the 24-year-old has posted three hundreds.

“I’ve worked on my mindset. I used to relax when I reached the 50-70 phase of my innings. I am now trying to concentrate more during that time,” Samarth said here on Thursday.

Mayank's fine form at the other end has put Samarth at ease. The duo have put on three triple-digit opening stands — 117, 262, and 259 — and three 50-plus efforts. The two know each other well, having played for the same school team at Bishop Cotton Boys' School here.

“We have been batting together since our school days. Mayank is an aggressive player, while I am a touch player. Even in school cricket, he would race along to 75, while I would reach 20-25. We complement each other very well. Mayank is batting better than he ever has; he is in the zone. I’m very happy for him,” Samarth said.

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The innings victory over Mumbai has given the Karnataka players tremendous confidence, ahead of the semifinal fixture against Vidarbha. The match, to be held at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, commences on Sunday. “I know it was a depleted side, but Mumbai is Mumbai. Defeating them in four days is a great way to enter the semifinals. Our team has won enough trophies to know that this is the business end of the deal. We know that this is where the tournament really begins,” he said.