Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Suchith makes merry as Maharashtra toils

After pacers, Vinay Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun and Ronit More ran through the top-order in quick time, left-arm spinner J. Suchith turned the screws on Maharashtra with a four-wicket haul.

Maharashtra’s batsmen were anything but meticulous in their approach as Karnataka enjoyed an upper hand.   -  MA Sriram

Maharashtra struggled to cope with the absence of key batsmen Kedar Jadhav and Ankeet Bawane, slipping to a paltry 113 on the first day of its Ranji Trophy encounter against Karnataka in Mysuru on Wednesday.

After pacers, Vinay Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun and Ronit More ran through the top-order in quick time, left-arm spinner J. Suchith turned the screws on Maharashtra with a four-wicket haul.

Maharashtra stutters

Karnataka’s reply was sedate, but by no means confident. The host crawled to 70 for three in 40 overs, with the disciplined visiting bowlers giving nothing away.

Maharashtra’s batsmen, however, were anything but meticulous in their approach. Openers Swapnil Gugale and Chirag Khurana fell inside the first two overs, while Jay Pande (20, 29b) was sent back by a beauty from More.

The fast bowler got one to swing in at pace, going through bat and pad and hitting the stumps. Rahul Tripathi, the stand-in skipper for Bawane, was caught-behind by More for a duck.

Tripathi, though, was not too pleased with the umpire’s decision and hung around at the crease for a while before eventually leaving.

Much was expected from Ruturaj Gaikwad, who scored an unbeaten 118 in the previous match. Gaikwad looked steady and comfortable during his 97-ball 39 before Suchith induced an inside-edge and cleaned him up.

Suchith shines with the ball

There was little resistance from this point on, allowing hometown hero Suchith (four for 26) to make merry. With K. Gowtham away on India ‘A’ duty, Suchith has made the most of his status of Karnataka’s premier spinner, picking up 14 wickets in five innings.

"I didn't play many games last season, because we have two great spinners in Shreyas Gopal and K. Gowtham. I kept training very hard, as my aim was to be the go-to spinner if Gowtham or Shreyas get picked for India 'A' teams. The hard work I put in last season is paying off," Suchith said.

The Karnataka batters were perhaps overly cautious, which built up a great deal of pressure. The intent was to tire the bowlers out by sticking around, rather than gather runs.

Devdut Padikkal (7, 24b, 1x4), making his first-class debut, had no clue to the banana swing of Anupam Sanklecha. Kaunain Abbas batted 90 minutes for his 15 before the medium-pace of Tripathi had him fishing. The wicket of K.V. Siddharth (11, 42b, 1x4), just before the close of play gave Maharashtra a lot to cheer about.

D. Nischal (32 batting, 101b) stood firm, but in general, Karnataka will do well to shed its safety-first mindset for a more positive outlook on the morrow.

Brief Scores:

At Mysore: Maharashtra 113 in 39.4 overs (J. Suchith four for 26) vs Karnataka 70 for three in 40 overs. Toss: Maharashtra