Vinay Kumar: 'Great to win three back-to-back matches'

Vinay Kumar's 56 (86b, 8x4) and five for 28 flattened Vidarbha at the Moti Bagh ground, and took Karnataka a step closer to the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy.

Vinay Kumar (right) appeals successfully for LBW of SR Ramaswamy of Vidarbha during the second innings of the Ranji Trophy Match between Karnataka and Vidarbha at Moti Baugh stadium in Vadodara.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Medium-pacer Vinay Kumar may have sat out Karnataka's two previous matches with a calf injury, but he demonstrated on Monday that he had more than recovered. His 56 (86b, 8x4) and five for 28 flattened Vidarbha at the Moti Bagh ground, and took Karnataka a step closer to the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy.

>Ranji Trophy: Karnataka crushes Vidarbha by 189 runs

"It's great to win three back-to-back matches and be kind of secure about a place in the knockouts," Vinay said. "I'm happy with my individual performance too because after the injury I hadn't played a couple of matches."

Vinay's last five-wicket haul in first-class cricket had come 20 months ago, in the semifinals of the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy season. "I have always believed in bowling well. Sometimes you get wickets and other times, you don't," he said. "In the first innings, I felt bad about getting a wicket (Jitesh Sharma) off a no-ball. But I told the coach that I'd bowl well in the second innings."

Karnataka had lost three for two in the morning when Vinay came out to bat. His aggression was a contrast to the methods of his colleagues, who struggled. "When you see others in your team play good cricketing shots and get out, you know you have to do something different," he said. "This wicket was not easy to bat on because there were cracks all over the pitch. The ball was kicking up off some spots and keeping low off others. So K. Gowtham and I (the side's top two scorers this match) approached both innings with an intention to attack."

A target over 300 was important, Vinay felt, to demoralize Vidarbha. "Any score over 250 was going to be a challenging total here. [But] if the lead crossed 300, we knew it would affect the mindset of the chasing team," he said.

Karnataka drew its first four games last season, and won only two matches over the entire campaign. This time around, three of the first four fixtures have ended in outright victory. "There has been no major change in the way we play," Vinay said. "Last year, the first game (against Assam) didn’t go our way and we conceded the first-innings lead. This year, we have started well. We are doing the same things we've been doing for the last two-three years. Players are more mature compared to two years ago."