Ranji Trophy: Nischal, Siddharth fifties save the day for Karnataka

A disciplined bowling performance from Railways left Karnataka on 208 for 9 at stumps on day one.

Railways' Amit Mishra celebrates with team-mates at the fall of a Karnataka batsman.   -  K. Murali Kumar

A disciplined bowling performance from Railways rattled Karnataka on the opening day of its Ranji Trophy Elite Group A contest here. Put in to bat on a surface with early assistance for the seamers, the home side lost three wickets inside the first hour of play. D. Nischal (52) and K.V. Siddharth (69) then consolidated, adding 112 runs for the fourth wicket, but a collapse after tea put Railways on top again.

At stumps at the KSCA Stadium in Navule on Saturday, Karnataka was 208 for nine, the last-wicket pair of Sharath Srinivas and Prasidh Krishna having put on 30 runs. Medium-pacer Amit Mishra was rewarded with three wickets for his toil, as was left-arm spinner Avinash Yadav, who wore the batsmen down on a pitch that hardly favoured him.

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Mishra was on target from the very beginning, and had Nischal edge behind on nought. But the medium-pacer had overstepped and Nischal survived. Mishra did strike in his next over, though, when R. Samarth edged to second slip. Devdutt Padikkal lasted five balls before Manish Pandey – leading Karnataka in the absence of R. Vinay Kumar, who pulled out of the fixture with a sore knee – flashed at a full delivery from Thakur to depart for four.

At 17 for three, Karnataka was in definite trouble. Things could have been worse had Nischal not been reprieved again, on 20, when Railways captain Arindam Ghosh shelled a simple chance at first slip off Mishra. The opener was unperturbed, as he and Siddharth knuckled down. They took no risks, even if the runs slowed to a trickle.

Siddharth was the first to complete his half-century, off 132 balls, during the course of which he essayed a couple of fine drives though the off-side. Nischal got there not long after but fell within minutes of reaching the landmark, beaten on the back-foot by a quicker one from Yadav that slid through. There was a quarter of an hour left for tea, and it was a wicket a tiring Railways side desperately needed.

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After the break, the Karnataka innings unravelled. Siddharth, who had looked composed and solid all along, tried to bludgeon Yadav over the leg-side boundary, but ended up lobbing the ball to mid-on. It was an unnecessary shot and it triggered a rush of wickets. Shreyas Gopal edged Mishra behind for 20, while Abhimanyu Mithun was beaten by Yadav's bounce. K. Gowtham was bowled by a peach of a delivery from Mishra and Karnataka had lost three for zero in the space of 10 balls.

Ronit More then handed wicket-keeper Nitin Bhille – a former junior Karnataka cricketer – his fifth catch of the innings. It took some luck, but Sharath and Prasidh ensured the innings would spill over into the second day.

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