Ranji Trophy: Experienced Karnataka faces a resilient Jharkhand

Karnataka has been one of the finest forces in Indian cricket. For Jharkhand, these are still learning years even though the squad boasts of some exciting young talent. Their Ranji Trophy meeting at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex here from Thursday should give some indications of Jharkhand’s progress as a first-class team and Karnataka’s resolve to emerge the champion side this team after a forgettable last season.

Vinay Kumar will be leading Karnataka this season.   -  K.Murali Kumar

Karnataka has been one of the finest forces in Indian cricket. For Jharkhand, these are still learning years even though the squad boasts of some exciting young talent. Their Ranji Trophy meeting at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex here from Thursday should give some indications of Jharkhand’s progress as a first-class team and Karnataka’s resolve to emerge the champion side this team after a forgettable last season.

Karnataka played five games at home but did not achieve its potential. The decision to have Robin Uthappa and C. M. Gowtham keep wickets in alternate matches did not help the team. There was a sense of uncertainty in the dressing room and it did impact the overall campaign of a team that had the credentials to go the distance after title wins in 2014 and 2015.

R. Vinay Kumar is at the helm. His experience of a decade and skills with the new and old ball hold the key in the company of Abhimanyu Mithun, S. Arvind and Stuart Binny. It is a potent attack that can unsettle the best batting line up in domestic cricket and competing in alien conditions should bring the best out of the team.

Karnataka coach J. Arun Kumar was happy with the preparations. “The boys are very confident this year. Many tournaments like Safi Darashah, Karnataka Premier League and the All-India invitational tournament went well for the players. They are all in good form. Our bench strength is good. Very good players like Shishir Bhawane and H. S Sharath don’t find a place in the side. That shows the fierce competition that exists in Karnataka cricket and it’s a good sign,” Arun Kumar said.

Karnataka would do well to remember Jharkhand’s win when the teams last met in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. According to Jharkhand coach Rajeev Kumar, “Beating any good side gives you a lot of confidence. Coming into this match, we had an outright win (against Maharashtra). We have had a good start to the season.”

The scars of the last season need to be erased. The Karnataka coach agreed, “Our boys are very hurt after what happened in the last season. They have spoken about last season’s debacle and they really want to start winning matches. We want to regain the glory and everyone in the team has spoken about it. So straight away we intend to dominate the opponents and start winning matches.”

Outlining the approach, Arun Kumar added, “We want to take each game at a time. We don't want to think too much about the negatives of the last season. We want to start fresh and we are aiming for a winning start.”

Rajeev Kumar acknowledged Karnataka’s reputation. “They are a very good team with some good all-rounders. We are very excited to play against them as we feel we need such matches to test ourselves.”



The teams (from)

Karnataka: R Vinay Kumar (captain), Karun Nair, R Samarth, Robin Uthappa, Mayank Agarwal, CM Gautam (wk), Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, S Arvind, Abhimanyu Mithun, Abrar Kazi, Mir Kaunian Abbas, Pavan Deshpande, Arjun Hoysala, K Gowtham, Ronit More.

Jharkhand: Varun Aaron (captain), Ishan Kishan (wk), SP Gautam, Virat Singh, Ishank Jaggi, Saurabh Tiwary, Anand Singh, Kaushal Singh, Pratyush Singh, Ajay Yadav, Vikash Singh, Shahbaz Nadeem, Samar Quadri, Sunny Gupta, Ashish Kumar