Vijay Hazare: Karnataka manages a narrow win over Jharkhand

Karnataka, which posted 266 after being inserted in, relied on debutant off-spinner K. Gowtham’s four-wicket haul to wrap up the Jharkhand innings for 261 in 49.5 overs.

Gowtham, who had scalped Ishan Kishan, bowled with discipline to bag the wickets of Kaushal Singh and Shahbaz Nadeem as well.   -  Special Arrangement

Despite stopping M. S. Dhoni at the right time, Karnataka experienced some anxious moments before managing a narrow five-run win over Jharkhand in its Group D opener of the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day tournament at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday.

Karnataka, which posted 266 after being inserted in, relied on debutant off-spinner K. Gowtham’s four-wicket haul to wrap up the Jharkhand innings for 261 in 49.5 overs.

Fans trickled in since morning in the hope of seeing Dhoni and waited patiently till the 20th over of the Jharkhand innings to witness the entertaining batsman come out to bat at 79 for four.

Around 1000 die-hard supporters of the former India captain chanted ‘Dhoni, Dhoni’ and ‘Mahi, Mahi’ and cheered Dhoni through his 50-ball 43, containing three trademark square cuts to the point boundary and two sixes of Gowtham between long-on and mid-wicket.

Dhoni paced his and the team’s innings with familiar ease. The Jharkhand captain joined hands with Saurabh Tiwary to rotate the strike by gathering 81 off 16.5 overs and keep its team, which had lost two wickets to debutant seamer M. Prasidh in the second over, on track.

Dhoni’s dismissal – when he shuffled across to explore the gap on the leg side but missed the ball, which went off his pads on to the stumps -- in the 37th over made pacer T. Pradeep’s debut memorable and boosted Karnataka’s morale.

Tiwary (68 off 86) executed some clean hits, including five fours and two sixes, before hoisting Gowtham to Mayank Agarwal at mid-off in the 42nd over.

Gowtham, who had scalped Ishan Kishan (36 off 58), bowled with discipline to bag the wickets of Kaushal Singh and Shahbaz Nadeem as well. Jharkhand, however, did not give up easily as its last two pairs added 51 runs and gave Karnataka some jitters.

Earlier, Karnataka banked on a fine 116-run third wicket stand between skipper Manish Pandey (77 off 95) and R. Samarth (71) and a 57-run fourth wicket partnership between Manish and Pavan Deshpande (36 off 34) to record a 260-plus total.

Jharkhand pacers, especially Rahul Shukla (four for 45) and Varun Aaron (two for 52), bowled well to dry up the runs in the closing overs and give their side a chance.

The scores:

Karnataka 266 in 49.4 overs (Manish Pandey 77, R. Samarth 71, Pavan Deshpande 36, Mayank Agarwal 26, Rahul Shukla four for 45) bt Jharkhand 261 in 49.5 overs (Saurabh Tiwary 68, M.S. Dhoni 43, Ishan Kishan 36, Ishank Jaggi 25, K. Gowtham four for 58).