In the aftermath of Karnataka’s Ranji Trophy semifinal defeat to Saurashtra, R. Vinay Kumar’s predominant feeling is one of sadness. An umpiring call that went in favour of Cheteshwar Pujara on the fourth afternoon could conceivably have changed the course of the game but Vinay says he feels no anger towards the officials. His disappointment, instead, stems from being unable to take his team over the line.
“The umpires are human too. If they make mistakes, it's part and parcel of the game. I can't blame them,” he says. “We had lost to Saurashtra in the quarterfinals in 2013 and 2008. I wanted to change that record; I wanted to take responsibility and take us to the final.”
Even on the fifth morning, Vinay believed Karnataka had a chance. “If I'd got Pujara's wicket, we'd have run through their side,” he says. “When we took the second new ball, I bowled those three balls to Pujara: the first went between gully and slip, the second could have easily hit middle-stump, and the third was almost a nick. Luck was on their side.”
The Pujara episode has triggered a debate around walking but Vinay is realistic. “Sometimes even when you've not nicked the ball, the umpire will give you out. Then, you can't say you're not out. So you have every right to stay when you nick the ball. It depends on the individual,” he says.
Vinay may have finished with 14 wickets for the season, but it is not a fair reflection on how he’s bowled, he argues. “I played only seven games. In Rajkot, we played on a turner. The way I bowled, I could easily have got 25 wickets in the other six. I came down with a fever on the second day of the quarterfinal. I was still feeling the effects of the antibiotics in the first innings of the semifinal. At the end of the day, I don't worry if I'm bowling well. I only worry if I'm bowling badly. Look at the spell I bowled to Pujara on day five. That was my last spell of the season. That says I'm still in the game.”
One thing that has pleased Vinay, though, is the overwhelming support the Karnataka team has received this last week. “The response of the people on social media and elsewhere, it was really heartening to see. People think that not many follow the Ranji Trophy but such support is a boost for domestic cricketers,” he says.
Vinay is 34 now and there is competition for places in the side but he does not waste time worrying about the future. “Till the time I can make a difference for my side I will play,” he says. “The day I feel I can't give my 100% to the team in batting, bowling and fielding, I will be the first person to say I'm done. Right now, I'm feeling fresh and strong.”
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