R Vinay Kumar, the Karnataka skipper, knocked the stuffing out of Mumbai on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy 2017-18 quarterfinal at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur on Thursday (December 7), taking 6 for 34 from 15 overs of sustained hostility.
On the occasion of his 100th Ranji Trophy game, the paceman began with a hat-trick as Mumbai were bowled out for 173 after Karnataka opted to bowl first on a greenish wicket. In response, Mayank Agarwal notched another unbeaten half-century to hike his season tally to 1,126 runs from 11 innings, taking Karnataka to 115 for 1 in 29 overs at stumps. Karnataka trail Mumbai by 58 runs.
Agarwal was joined by Kaunain Abbas (a last-minute inclusion after D Nischal injured his hand during warm-ups) after R Samarth fell for 40, and the second-wicket pair had added an unbeaten 32 runs so far. Mayank finished the day on 62 not out from 83 balls and Abbas was unconquered on 12.
Mumbai owed much to Dhawal Kulkarni’s 75 from No.9, as the pacer ensured some respectability to the total.
Karnataka’s pace attack comprising Vinay, Abhimanyu Mithun and S Aravind, made good use of a pitch that offered plenty of movement and bounce, but unlike Mithun and Aravind, who struggled with consistency, the skipper landed the ball on a dime and reaped big rewards. Stuart Binny, who was left out of the game because of a niggle, would have been an ideal medium-pace option in these conditions, but with Vinay running riot, his absence wasn’t felt.
Vinay’s relentless line and length, an improved show from Karnataka’s fielders, and an inexcusable batting display from Mumbai meant the 41-time champions were on the back foot within the first few minutes of the game kicking off.
After getting Prithvi Shaw (2) to nick it to Karun Nair at second slip in the final ball of the opening over, Vinay got Jay Bista (1) out to a one-handed stunner from Nair at the same spot on the first ball of his second over. Akash Parkar (0) was entrusted with the job of dodging the hat-trick delivery, but a sharp inswinger rapped him on the pads, and Vinay became the tenth bowler from Karnataka to achieve the feat in Ranji Trophy.
Vinay wasn’t done though. He packed off Siddesh Lad with the best delivery of the day, squaring up Mumbai’s top-scorer this season for an outside edge. Mithun, Aravind and K Gowtham took over the wicket-taking duties for a brief bit, but Vinay returned and sent back Akhil Herwadkar (32) and Karsh Kothari (1) to finish with his best figures this season. He had 6 for 59 against Maharashtra in Pune earlier, and this was also his 22nd first-class five-for.
Kulkarni showcased his experience with a fine knock though, and more importantly, he added 70 runs for the tenth wicket alongside Shivam Malhotra (7 not out), to give Mumbai’s total a semblance of respectability. Bad form or not, leaving Abhishek Nayar out of this contest has already hurt Mumbai significantly and may do more damage in the days to come.