Vijay Hazare Trophy: Karnataka begins new season afresh with new captain Pandey

With Vinay Kumar moving to Puducherry after 15 successive seasons with Karnataka, the State side will be led by Manish Pandey at the Vijay Hazare Trophy that gets underway on Tuesday.

Manish Pandey will lead Karnataka for the first team at the Vijay Hazare Trophy this season.   -  Sudhakara Jain

It has been 15 years since Karnataka began a domestic season without R. Vinay Kumar. With the veteran medium-pacer having moved to Puducherry, Manish Pandey will bear the responsibility of leading the State side into a new era when Elite Group A action in the 2019-20 Vijay Hazare Trophy begins here on Tuesday.

It will not be easy replacing the experience of Vinay's 459 first-class wickets, or his leadership, or his commitment in the field, but with Ronit More, Prasidh Krishna, V. Koushik, and Abhimanyu Mithun in the squad, the bowling should not suffer.

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"Vinay was somebody who did a lot for Karnataka and for all of us," said Pandey on the eve of Karnataka's opening clash, against Hyderabad at the Alur grounds here. "We have learnt a lot from him, his work ethic and the way he used to lead. We wish him all the best. But we have a lot of talent here."

Tuesday's matches ( all at Alur)
  • Mumbai vs. Saurashtra (Stadium III)
  • Andhra vs. Chhattisgarh, (Stadium II)
  • Karnataka vs. Hyderabad (Stadium I)
  • Starts at 09:00 IST

Last season, Karnataka endured a difficult time in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, losing three of its first four matches while the other was washed out. Given the nature of the competition – with a combined five teams progressing from the two Elite groups – the team's campaign was effectively over inside a week.

"Last time, the tournament started just three days after KPL; so we didn't have much time to prepare," said coach Yere Goud. "This time, we started training from September 10 and we are ready.”

K.L. Rahul in action in the nets on the eve of Karnataka's opening Vijay Hazare Trophy clash against Hyderabad in Bengaluru, on Monday.   -  SUDHAKARA JAIN

 

Goud will be pleased to have Pandey and K.L. Rahul available for the whole of the tournament. Devdutt Padikkal and K.V. Siddharth have been in fine form. Abhishek Reddy and Pavan Deshpande should bolster what is already a strong batting line-up. Shreyas Gopal, Pravin Dubey and J. Suchith provide the spin options, complementing a capable pace-bowling group.

Vijay Hazare Trophy 2019-20 full fixtures

Also in Group A here are Mumbai, the defending champion, Jharkhand, which reached the semifinals last year, Saurashtra, Andhra, Kerala, Goa, Chhattisgarh and Hyderabad. With only five of the 18 teams from Elite Groups A and B to progress to the quarterfinals, there is little room for error. “We won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last season because everybody was playing for each other and there was great unity in the side,” said Pandey. “We have to play as one team.”

Pandey’s own commitment to the cause is not in doubt. He went through a full training session on Monday morning despite having been in the Indian dressing room for the third T20 against South Africa less than 12 hours before. “I always look forward to playing for Karnataka,” he said. “Even if I had checked out from the hotel today, I would have come and joined the group.”