Karnataka’s recent returns in the Ranji Trophy doesn’t quite befit a side with a rich and storied history. An eight-time champion and a six-time runner-up, Karnataka hasn’t made it past the semifinals since the title-winning effort in 2014-15.
It is this anomaly that the Mayank Agarwal-led outfit is seeking to correct this campaign, and the first test in that pursuit will come with the quarterfinal against Uttarakhand that gets underway at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium from Tuesday.
“Honestly, if you look at us this season, we are playing a different brand of cricket,” said Mayank, on match-eve. “We are not focussing or thinking too much about what has happened in the past. If we continue to play how we have been playing, we will fare really well.”
Mayank has walked the talk, scoring 603 runs from 10 innings this season to emerge the top-scorer for his team. Batters R. Samarth, Manish Pandey and Nikin Jose have ably assisted the skipper, while Devdutt Padikkal’s 114 against Jharkhand in the last game is another shot in the arm.
The bowling exploits of K. Gowtham, V. Koushik, V. Vyshak and Vidwath Kaverappa, and the all-round performances of Shreyas Gopal have ensured that Karnataka has all bases covered. In fact, Karnataka’s 35 points in the group stage were the most for any team.
But Uttarakhand is no pushover, something that it proved by qualifying from Elite Group ‘A’ (with 29 points) ahead of fancied sides such as Baroda, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. In captain Jiwanjot Singh and Aditya Tare, Uttarakhand has two battle-hardened players who can be effective guiding lights.
A newbie in India’s premier First Class competition, having made its debut only in 2018-19, Uttarakhand has now made back-to-back quarterfinals. In its first-ever match against Karnataka it will hope to make another splash.
Karnataka: Mayank Agarwal (Capt.), R. Samarth, Devdutt Padikkal, Nikin Jose, Manish Pandey, K.V. Siddharth, B.R. Sharath, Sharath Srinivas, K. Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Shubhang Hegde, Vidwath Kaverappa, V. Koushik, V. Vyshak, M. Venkatesh.
Uttarakhand: Jiwanjot Singh (Capt.), Aryan Sharma, Avneesh Sudha, Himanshu Bisht, Kunal Chandela, Deepak Dhapola, Priyanshu Khanduri, Akash Madhwal, Mayank Mishra, Dikshanshu Negi, Abhay Negi, Rajan Kumar, Akhil Rawat, Swapnil Singh, Aditya Tare, Agrim Tiwari.