Sunil Joshi spins Karnataka to victory

SUNIL Joshi lent an emphatic hand to Karnataka's return from the wilderness.

K. C. VIJAYA KUMAR K. C. Vijaya Kumar

SUNIL Joshi lent an emphatic hand to Karnataka's return from the wilderness. The left-arm spinner's match haul of 12 wickets helped the former Ranji champions defeat Kerala by an innings and 11 runs in the Ranji Trophy Plate Division final at Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium held from March 4 to 6. The host won with two days to spare and along with Kerala qualified for the Elite Division next season.

The Karnataka team which won the Ranji Trophy Plate Division final. — Pic. K. BHAGYA PRAKASH-

The Plate Division finalists had already qualified for the Elite Division and interest in the final centred on whether Kerala could overhaul its lopsided record against Karnataka. The visitors had a 2-39 win-loss record from 48 matches against the host. And when Kerala captain Sunil Oasis said on the match's eve, "we should win if we play to potential,'' it sounded like a veiled threat.

However in the next three days Karnataka paid a left handed compliment as Sunil Joshi cast a spell from the BEML end and showed the exit door to batsmen who forgot the maxim — `feet-got-to-move.'

The beginning was sedate. Kerala openers Sujith Somasundar and Mausam Nathani had it easy against Dodda Ganesh and N.C. Aiyappa who were busy bending their backs for pace and forgot to see where their deliveries were landing. Often the balls sailed past harmlessly as the openers survived the first session and helped Sunil Oasis smile.

Debutant Sudhindra Shinde played his shots with refreshing freedom during a knock of 84. -- Pic. K. BHAGYA PRAKASH-

But the advent of Joshi (six for 62) left Oasis nursing a frown as Sujith (44), Nathani (32) and later southpaw Hemant Kumar (48) succumbed to Joshi's guiles. Oasis himself failed to stem the pavilion-bound tide as he edged Joshi into Thilak Naidu's gloves. The Kerala innings folded up at 190 and Karnataka surged ahead as opener and skipper J. Arun Kumar along with middle-order batsman and debutant Sudhindra Shinde revelled against a friendly attack.

Arun Kumar (84) injected aggression into the openers' staid motto of `caution-above-all'. His drives and sweeps left the spinning trio of leg-spinner Ananthapadmanabhan and left-arm spinners Suresh Kumar and Sree Kumar Nair in a tizzy. At the other end Sudhindra Shinde (84) displayed a calm head and moving feet.

Shinde was indeed a revelation as he played his shots with the refreshing freedom associated with youth and his cuts were delectable while a cover drive off seamer Sreesanth left the off-side fielders static. Shinde though failed to walk into history books with a century on debut as he went walk-about against Ananthapadmanabhan and edged one to first slip. The Karnataka juggernaut rolled on and had a late thrust as Thilak Naidu (59) and Dodda Ganesh (50) helped the host post 405. Kerala's lone high-five note was struck when Ananthapadmanabhan bagged five wickets conceding 118 runs.

The host's 215-run lead left the hangman's noose dangling close to the Kerala batsmen. And the final rites were performed by Joshi (six for 75) on the third day as the Kerala batsmen froze their feet and swayed to the demons in their minds while dealing with Joshi's variable turn and bounce on a pitch that promised runs. Hemant Kumar (44) did baulk the spinning duo of Joshi and off-spinner Udit Patel but it was a fire-fighting exercise that proved futile on a sunny afternoon.

The scores:

Kerala — 1st innings: Sujith Somasundar c Barrington Rowland b Sunil Joshi 44, Mausam Nathani c Vijay Bharadwaj b Joshi 32, C. Hemant Kumar c S. Shinde b Joshi 48, Sunil Oasis c Thilak Naidu b Joshi 0, Sree Kumar Nair c Barrington b Joshi 4, Ajay Kudua (run out) 22, Vipin Lal c N.C. Aiyappa b Udit Patel 20, Suresh Kumar c N.C. Aiyappa b Joshi 10, K.N. Ananthapadmanabhan (not out) 2, Sreesanth c Joshi b Udit 0, J. Grandbell lbw Udit 0. Extras (lb-4, nb-3, w-1) 8. Total (in 77.3 overs) 190.

Fall of wickets: 1-58, 2-105, 3-105, 4-119, 5-150, 6-171, 7-188, 8-188, 9-188.

Karnataka bowling: Dodda Ganesh 12-1-35-0, N.C. Aiyappa 11-2-39-0, Sunil Joshi 30-10-62-6, Udit Patel 19.3-8-42-3, C. Raghu 5-2-8-0.

Sunil Oasis is caught by Thilak Naidu off Sunil Joshi for zero in Kerala's first innings. Sunil Joshi picked up 12 wickets in the match. -- Pic. K. BHAGYA PRAKASH-

Karnataka — 1st innings: J. Arun Kumar c Sreekumar b Ananthapadmanabhan 84, Barrington Rowland c Sujith Somasundar b Ananthapadmanabhan 22, Sudhindra Shinde c Sunil Oasis b Ananthapadmanabhan 84, Vijay Bharadwaj b Ananthapadmanabhan 36, Thilak Naidu lbw Ananthapadmanabhan 59, Deepak Chougule lbw Suresh Kumar 13, Sunil Joshi c Mausam Nathani b Sreesanth 2, C. Raghu lbw Sunil Oasis 8, Dodda Ganesh st. Nathani b Suresh Kumar 50, Udit Patel c Vipin Lal b Sreesanth 13, N.C. Aiyappa (not out) 6. Extras (b-4, lb-2, nb-21, w-1) 28. Total (in 129.1 overs) 405.

Fall of wickets: 1-99, 2-154, 3-223, 4-260, 5-285, 6-296, 7-323, 8-349, 9-376.

Kerala bowling: Sreesanth 19-3-79-2, J. Grandbell 20-3-58-0, Suresh Kumar 24.1-4-67-2, Sreekumar Nair 22-9-46-0, Ananthapadmanabhan 37-13-118-5, Sunil Oasis 7-0-31-1.

Kerala — 2nd innings: Sujith Somasundar lbw N.C. Aiyappa 19, Mausam Nathani c Sunil Joshi b Udit Patel 16, Vipin Lal (run out) 10, C. Hemant Kumar c Thilak Naidu b Joshi 44, Sunil Oasis b Joshi 18, Sreekumar Nair b Udit Patel 17, Ajay Kudua c Ganesh b Joshi 18, Suresh Kumar c Thilak b Joshi 33, Ananthapadmanabhan (not out) 22, Sreesanth c N.C. Aiyappa b Joshi 5, Grandbell c N.C. Aiyappa b Joshi 0. Extras (b-1, lb-1) 2. Total (in 59.3 overs) 204.

Fall of wickets: 1-29, 2-40, 3-50, 4-85, 5-110, 6-133, 7-173, 8-190, 9-204.

Karnataka bowling: Dodda Ganesh 18-0-35-0, N.C. Aiyappa 8-2-15-1, Sunil Joshi 23.3-3-75-6, Udit Patel 19-3-72-2, C. Raghu 1-0-5-0.