For a better part of the last three decades, Karnataka has consistently churned out pace bowlers. In fact, it is often said in the last decade that for a pacer, getting into Karnataka’s pace bowling line-up is as difficult as getting into India’s.
No wonder then that a bowler as skilled as S. Arvind had to warm the bench during Karnataka’s season-opener against Jharkhand. But when the opportunity knocked on his door last week, thanks to captain R. Vinay Kumar’s fitness issues, he grabbed it with both hands by demolishing the fancied Delhi batting ensemble on the first morning.
Cut to Thursday at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s Bandra-Kurla Complex facility, and the left-arm pacer showcased his artistry with the red cherry yet again. What made his five-wicket haul against Assam all the more sweeter was the fact that he toiled for 21 overs, since Abhimanyu Mithun had been sidelined with a groin injury in the third over of the match.
He displayed his ability to move the new ball away from batsmen, forcing Rishav Das, Rahul Hazarika and captain Gokul Sharma to edge in the slips in his opening spell that read 6-1-17-3. Later in the opening session, he got the ball to jag back in slightly to make K.B. Arun Karthick repent his decision to shoulder arms. He completed his second five-wicket haul in first-class cricket with a peach that kissed Syed Mohammad’s willow before resting into C.M. Gautam’s gloves in the second session.
No wonder then that Aravind — after a long ice bath — wore a satisfied look on his face. “It was challenging, especially since we are missing a great bowler like Mithun. His groin has swollen but we had to make up for it. The wicket also has got easier to bat on, but we had to persist with the right lengths,” he said.
That the surface has become batting-friendly as the day has progressed was evident in the fact that the Assam batsmen took a heavy toll on the Karnataka spinners. Still, neither centurion Amit Verma who complimented Aravind for his “ability to swing the ball both ways” nor all-rounder Sarupam Purkayastha, who backs himself to play strokes, could get the better of him. The fact that only 20 of his 126 balls were scored of in the day is a testimony to his precision.
Aravind and Karnataka both realised that the job was only half done and they would want the key bowler to continue his good work with the ball on the second morning.
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