Ranji Trophy: Karnataka wins with bonus point

Halfway into the match, the Karnataka change room had been pretty vocal about their intent to go for "six, if not seven points". The plan was executed to perfection as the eight-time champion outfit earned a deserving ten-wicket victory over Assam 15 minutes after the tea break on the last day to garner seven points, including the bonus.

K. Gowtham bagged seven wickets to guide Karnataka home.   -  PTI

Halfway into the match, the Karnataka change room had been pretty vocal about their intent to go for “six, if not seven points”. The plan was executed to perfection as the eight-time champion outfit earned a deserving ten-wicket victory over Assam 15 minutes after the tea break on the last day to garner seven points, including the bonus.

>Scorecard

The star of Karnataka’s second successive victory in as many weeks was — again — off-spinner K. Gowtham. Fresh from a second-wicket fifer against Delhi, Gowtham went a step ahead and bagged seven wickets on the turf of Mumbai Cricket Association’s Bandra-Kurla Complex facility, which saw spinners coming in to play on the last day. Leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal chipped in with three wickets, thus making it a perfect ten for spin bowlers.

Assam had to bat out of its skins if it was to save the ignominy of suffering third defeat in four matches. Opener Rahul Hazarika and captain Gokul Sharma, the two overnight batsmen, saw off tight spells by Karnataka pacers S. Arvind and Stuart Binny. But the duo started looking shaky once spin was introduced in the ninth over, with Gopal’s introduction in the ninth over of the day. Arvind made way for Gowtham in the 12th over of the morning and it took the tall offie just 12 balls to strike.

Sharma was drawn forward and beaten for flight by Gowtham and the bowler’s namesake, ’keeper C.M. Gautam, whipped the bails in no time. This was on the stroke of the first hour’s play. Then on, despite Amit Verma holding on to an end thanks to two lives, Gowtham kept luring Assam batsmen into mistakes.

Considering the rough created by the pace bowlers on the wicket and the batsman on strike, Karnataka stand-in captain Karun Nair changed ends of both is prime spinners frequently and the move paid off most of the times as Gowtham and Gopal picked wickets from both the ends. Despite dropping Verma twice, the Karnataka fielders supported Gowtham and Gopal well.

While R. Samarth and Arvind completed clean catches deep on the on-side to dismiss Sarupam Purkayastha and Verma, substitutes Arjun Hoysala and R. Vinay Kumar pulled off stunners around the bat. While Hoysala picked a sharp catch at forward short-leg off the face of Tarjinder Singh’s blade, Vinay leapt to his left at full stretch to guzzle one that looped off Arup Das’ willow.

That stunning catch left Assam reeling at 238 for nine, still seven runs adrift making Karnataka bat again. Krishna Das’ twin fours — a steer through the slip cordon followed by a swat through mid-off — off Arvind ensured Karnataka had to bat again. Samarth and Mayank Agarwal ensured that they overhauled the paltry target of 20 without losing a wicket, thus ensuring a bonus point.

Other results (Group B):

>Delhi v Orissa

>Jharkhand v Vidarbha

>Rajasthan v Maharashtra

Results (Group A):

>Baroda v Punjab

>Bengal v Railways

>Gujarat v Uttar Pradesh

>Madhya Pradesh v Tamil Nadu

Results (Group C):

>Andhra v Haryana

>Chhattisgarh v Kerala

>Goa v Tripura

>Himachal Pradesh v Hyderabad

>Services v Jammu & Kashmir