Ranji Trophy: Prasidh Krishna boost for Karnataka in QF race

It is the certainty of qualification that Karun Nair's men will be chasing from Wednesday as they prepare for their first match at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Karnataka fast bowler Prasidh Krishna will be returning to action against Baroda.   -  FILE PHOTO/SUDHAKARA JAIN

 

Amid all the chat about scenarios, points and run quotients, the equation for Karnataka is fairly simple as it heads into its final Group-B fixture in the Ranji Trophy: secure at least three points against Baroda, and a spot in the quarterfinals is guaranteed; fail in that endeavour, however, and progress will depend on a combination of other results.

It is the certainty of qualification that Karun Nair's men will be chasing from Wednesday as they prepare for their first Ranji Trophy match at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium this season.

Last week, Karnataka surrendered the first-innings lead to Madhya Pradesh in uninspiring fashion in Shivamogga. The catching was decidedly poor while some decisions on the fourth day morning were puzzling. What did come as a relief, though, was the slight improvement in batting performances. R. Samarth, whose form has been impressive since the Mumbai fixture, scored Karnataka's first century of the season. K.V. Siddharth, who was playing only his third game of the campaign, made a fighting half-century.

Other concerns remain, however. Shreyas Gopal has only six wickets, at an average in excess of 85, from seven matches. The all-rounder has retained his place in the squad, but another failure could lead to the selectors looking elsewhere. The captain's own batting has been underwhelming. Karun has only two fifties to his name this season – both coming in the clash against Himachal Pradesh in Mysuru – and averages 24 from nine innings.

The return of Prasidh Krishna has undoubtedly strengthened the side. The fast bowler was out for three months due to a stress fracture in the lower leg; his arrival now adds another dimension to Karnataka's pace-bowling attack.

Baroda, meanwhile, is out of the last eight race. The side is fresh off successive losses – to Tamil Nadu and Saurashtra, both at home. The return of captain Krunal Pandya – who had been away in New Zealand with the India-A side – failed to lift Baroda last week, as it crashed to an innings defeat to Tamil Nadu inside three days.

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