Ranji Trophy 2019-20: An outright win will keep campaign on track, says Mithun

Two outright wins and three draws have left Karnataka seventh in the combined Elite A and B table, locked in a scramble for a quarterfinal spot.

Abhimanyu Mithun has been the leader of the Karnataka bowling attack.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

After securing the domestic one-day and T20 titles in dominant fashion this season, Karnataka has found life somewhat harder in the Ranji Trophy.

Of its five matches so far, the side has won two outright and drawn the other three, looking second-best against Himachal Pradesh and Saurashtra. Those results have left Karnataka seventh in the combined Elite A and B table, locked in a scramble for a quarterfinal spot.

Not one batsman has scored a hundred this season, while injuries and national-team commitments have kept key personnel away.

But with three league matches left, starting with an away tie against Railways next week, Abhimanyu Mithun is not in the least worried.

“We are feeling good. Everyone is in a positive frame of mind. R. Samarth has been batting really well. And we know we can get 20 wickets. If we win this next game outright, it will keep our campaign on track,” he said here on Thursday.

The batting has been a concern. Nineteen-year-old Devdutt Padikkal, playing in only his second Ranji Trophy season, has been the side’s leading scorer, notching up five half-centuries.

Devdutt Padikkal has been in fine form this season and a big knock is round the corner.   -  VIVEK BENDRE


Samarth, who looked out of touch early on, has strung together three fifties in his last four innings. The rest have struggled for consistency. Cheteshwar Pujara’s 248 and Sheldon Jackson's 161 in Rajkot put Karnataka’s batting woes into stark relief.

“In the coming few games, I feel you will see three or four batsmen score big hundreds,” said Mithun.

“We played on very tough wickets in the last two games (Mumbai and Saurashtra). The way they batted in those crucial situations showed a lot of character. We won against Mumbai and we saved the match against Saurashtra. The Railways match will be on a good wicket. And then we have two home games, where everyone knows how the pitch will behave.”

Mithun has been in sparkling form across competitions this season, producing notable performances in the finals of the both the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali trophies, before claiming 13 wickets from three Ranji Trophy matches.

With the exit of R. Vinay Kumar, Mithun is now the leader of the pace-bowling attack, and one of the side’s senior players.

“Just staying positive is giving me good results,” he said. “I did really well in the one-dayers and the T20s, and I have taken that confidence into the Ranji Trophy. Yere (Goud) sir and (Sreenath) Arvind (coaches) have given me a free hand. If I am bowling well on match days, that's all they expect from me. So if I don’t bowl much in the nets ahead of the game, they’re fine with it.”

A new fitness routine, including barefoot running, has clearly yielded results. “I have worked on a lot of running techniques in the off-season,” he said. “I warm up barefoot and then do some hurdles. I’m doing a lot of running. It's helping me a lot.”

With three potentially decisive matches to come, Karnataka will hope Mithun continues to run in at full tilt.

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