Ranji Trophy: Bowlers shine for Karnataka as Gujarat fumbles

Priyank Panchal's 135-ball 74 coupled with Piyush Chawla's expansive stroke-making failed to hand Gujarat the advantage as Karnataka bowlers made merry on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy clash.

Openers Priyank Panchal (74, 135b, 8x4) and Kathan Patel safely negotiated the early morning nip to raise Gujarat's hopes of a decent first innings total.   -  n. sudarshan

Karnataka took honours on day one of its Ranji Trophy encounter against Gujarat, dismissing the latter for a paltry 216, at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium here on Friday. In reply, it had reached 45 for two at stumps, the fall of openers Mayank Agarwal and D. Nischal only slightly loosening the grip.

Mayank (25, 36b, 4x4), despite being let off twice by the Gujarat fielders, glowed for a brief while, essaying a few delightful drives, before being caught at second slip trying to slash left-arm quick Arzan Nagwaswalla.

READ| Ranji Trophy 2018-19 Round VI: Day One round-up

Nischal was foxed by a googly from Piyush Chawla, with the ball sneaking between bat and pad and hitting the off stump. The wicket ushered in the close of play, leaving Samarth at the crease.

Gowtham shines with the ball

Nonetheless the host would be disappointed with the day’s proceedings. Karnataka’s lost toss allowed Gujarat the best of conditions and when it reached 48 for no loss, with openers Priyank Panchal (74, 135b, 8x4) and Kathan Patel safely negotiating the early morning nip, a decent first innings total looked likely. But it came to nothing.

Karnataka had rung in five changes; Mayank and offie K. Gowtham were included at the expense of Karun Nair and J. Suchith. An ankle injury to Abhimanyu Mithun meant left-arm seamer Prateek Jain made his first-class debut. So did wicket-keeper Sharath Srinivas, coming in place of B.R. Sharath, even as speedster Ronit More took the place of Pavan Deshpande.

Of these, Gowtham had the most impact, striking with his third ball as he castled Kathan, and then claiming the crucial wicket of Axar Patel with a fine diving caught-and-bowled effort. His first spell lasted 14 overs, bowled on either side of lunch (14-4-32-2), as he tied one end up allowing the others to chip away from the other.

The 30-year-old was unlucky not to have accounted for Panchal too, as ‘keeper Sharath missed an easy stumping when the batsman was on 50. 

Panchal holds fort

But for that chance, Panchal was assured. It took him more than seven overs to hit the first boundary, but the shot — a crunching straight drive off Jain — showed the kind of form he was in. Driven fours through the cover region, deft late cuts and clips off his legs all followed as he notched up his fifth fifty of the season to go with three centuries.

However Shreyas Gopal would claim the all-important wicket, albeit with a stroke of luck. Panchal, in his attempt to keep a pull down, chopped the ball on to his stumps to become the sixth man to fall.

From 137 for six though, Gujarat did well to reach 216, due in part to some expansive stroke-making by Piyush Chawla (34, 46b, 5x4) and Mehul B.Patel (31 n.o., 44b, 3x4, 1x6) and some conservative field-setting by Karnataka. Will these extra runs pinch?

Day two will hold the answers.