Samarth hungry for more runs

Karnataka opener R. Samarth is keen to build on last season's splendid efforts.

Samarth's 702 runs at the top of the order in the Ranji Trophy last season earned him a call-up to India-A's tour of South Africa in August.   -  Special Arrangement

A lot rests on R. Samarth's young shoulders this Ranji Trophy season. Karnataka's highest scorer last season – and by some distance – will be expected to make big runs again as the team learns to live without those on India duty.

Samarth, though, feels no burden of expectation; nor does responsibility worry him. “I don't know, I've never thought of it like that,” he says. “That added pressure will be there when you're playing for such a big side. I do whatever is in my hands.”

In the absence of K.L. Rahul, Manish Pandey and Karun Nair, the trio of Abhishek Reddy, Kaunain Abbas and Pavan Deshpande – with only 12 first-class matches between them – will be expected to make significant contributions. Samarth, though, has no doubt that they belong at this level.

“I don't think they're inexperienced,” he says. “They've played a lot of cricket at the age-group level. They're good enough to be playing the Ranji Trophy. We have an extremely strong bench, especially the batting.”

Samarth's 702 runs at the top of the order in the Ranji Trophy last season earned him a call-up to India-A's tour of South Africa in August. He wasted no time, scoring a half-century in both innings in the second unofficial Test as his team clinched a series-leveling victory.

Last month, he turned out for India-A against New Zealand-A in Vijayawada, where he made a fifty in the first unofficial Test.

“I'm glad that the opportunity came my way and that I did pretty well,” the 24-year-old says.

“I'm glad things fell in place. Last year I started off well, got a double hundred in the first game (against Jharkhand in Noida). I got a lot of fifties (four) later but didn't convert them. That will be the main goal this time.”

That Karnataka endured two difficult years, relative to the success that came before, does not put the team under pressure to win trophies, feels Samarth. “Not really. It's important to play the way we've been playing for the last four years. We've been doing well. It's just that in the odd game there has been a lapse and that has cost us. This year it's a new format. We're happy to be playing in Karnataka again in front of home crowds. We should do well.”

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