Ranji Trophy | Karnataka gets off to a blazing start against Punjab

Wrecker-in-chief: Koushik, left, picked up a career-best seven-wicket haul.
| Photo Credit: KIRAN BAKALE

Karnataka made a fine start to its 2023-24 Ranji Trophy campaign, restricting Punjab to 152 and ending the day just 10 runs adrift with seven wickets remaining.

At the KSCA Rajnagar Stadium here on Friday, speedster V. Koushik picked up a career-best seven-wicket haul (7/41) before Devdutt Padikkal scored a delightful unbeaten half-century (80 n.o., 80b, 14×4) to put Karnataka firmly in control.

Devdutt Padikkal.

Devdutt Padikkal.
| Photo Credit:

On a misty and breezy morning, Punjab chose to bat. It seemed a tad surprising, as the visitor had India pacer Arshdeep Singh in its arsenal and Karnataka’s pace battery was formidable. And the move backfired spectacularly as Koushik destroyed Punjab with a splendid first spell (8-3-20-4).

Though of big frame (6’1”), Koushik doesn’t hit the deck with pace. But he bowls in the right areas, that mythical region which tests even the greatest of batters. The willow wielders from Punjab are not supernatural talents and they duly fell like ninepins.

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Prabhsimran Singh was caught in the cordon and Naman Dhir by the wicket-keeper. Abhishek Sharma flickered for a while before chopping one on to his stumps. Mandeep Singh was unlucky when the ball hit his bat and popped off the pad into Manish Pandey’s hands.

From 37 for four, Nehal Wadhera (44, 79b, 7×4) and Gitansh Khera (27, 44b, 5×4) came together for a 52-run association. But Koushik returned for a second spell and had Khera caught behind.

A late cameo from Mayank Markande (26 n.o., 44b, 5×4) took the total past 150, but the home batters kept up the pressure. Padikkal, who had a tough last season because of an illness, was at his resplendent best, continuing his fine Vijay Hazare Trophy form (465 runs in five innings).

Twelve of his 14 boundaries came in the arc between third-man and cover as he cut and drove pacers Baltej Singh, Arshdeep and Siddharth Kaul, collecting 62 of 80 runs off them. If he scores big on Saturday, Karnataka may well bat just once.

The scores:

Punjab — 1st innings: Prabhsimran Singh c Manish b Koushik 5, Abhishek Sharma b Koushik 26, Naman Dhir c Sharath b Koushik 4, Mandeep Singh c Manish b Koushik 1, Nehal Wadhera c Sharath b Koushik 44, Gitansh Khera c Sharath b Koushik 27, Prerit Dutta c Sharath b Vyshak 8, Mayank Markande (not out) 26, Siddharth Kaul c Sharath b Koushik 0, Arshdeep Singh b Vyshak 7, Baltej Singh c sub b Rohit 0; Extras (lb-3, w-1): 4; Total (in 46.5 overs): 152.

Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-23, 3-36, 4-37, 5-89, 6-106, 7-122, 8-122, 9-131.

Karnataka bowling: Kaverappa 11-0-54-0, Koushik 15-6-41-7, Vyshak 13-3-35-2, Rohit 6.5-1-18-1, Shubhang 1-0-1-0.

Karnataka — 1st innings: R. Samarth b Dutta 38, Mayank Agarwal c Dhir b Arshdeep 0, Devdutt Padikkal (batting) 80, Nikin Jose lbw b Dhir 8, Manish Pandey (batting) 13; Extras (lb 3): 3; Total (for three wkts. in 33 overs): 142.

Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-92, 3-110.

Punjab bowling: Baltej 10-1-30-0, Arshdeep 8-1-37-1, Kaul 6-0-40-0, Dutta 4-0-18-1, Dhir 4-1-13-1, Markande 1-0-1-0.

Toss: Punjab.

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