Jan 23, 2019The Report by Saurabh SomaniFacebookTwitterFacebook MessengerPinterestEmailprint
Pace bowlers controlled proceedings on the first morning in both Ranji Trophy 2018-19 semi-finals, though Manish Pandey’s counter-attacking half-century meant there was some balance restored in the Karnataka v Saurashtra game. However, there was no such luck for Kerala, who were blown away by Umesh Yadav’s best innings figures in first-class cricket.
Kerala v Vidarbha
Faiz Fazal won the toss and promptly put Kerala in on a spicy surface at Krishnagiri Stadium in Wayanad. This was the same venue at which Kerala had beaten Gujarat in the quarter-final, with no team scoring more than 185 and seamers accounting for 34 of the 38 wickets that fell to bowlers.
Umesh ran through Kerala in the first session, scuttling them for 106 all out in 28.4 overs with 7 for 48 in 12 overs. Vishnu Vinod, batting at No. 7, hit out to score 37 not out, adding 25 runs for the last wicket with MD Nidheesh while farming the strike. That stand took Kerala into three figures, but they couldn’t go much beyond that.
Kerala’s batsmen failed to handle Umesh’s pace and hostility, and among the top order, only captain Sachin Baby (22) made it to double figures.
Umesh latest performance came on the heels of his nine-wicket match haul against Uttarakhand in the quarter-finals, for which he was awarded the man of the match. He hadn’t been available for Vidarbha in the league stages, being on India duty.
Rajneesh Gurbani, who shared the new ball with Umesh, took the other three wickets, doubling his tally for what has been a sub-par season so far. Vidarbha didn’t need to give their spinners any overs, despite the duo of Aditya Sarwate (44) and Akshay Wakhare (27) being their leading wicket-takers this season.
Karnataka v Saurashtra
Jaydev Unadkat made light of losing the toss at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, tearing through a star-studded Karnataka top order with a first spell that read 7-3-19-3. Unadkat’s victims were R Samarth, lbw to the third ball of the match, KV Siddharth, Karnataka’s highest run-getter this season, and Mayank Agarwal.
Fellow left-arm pacer Chetan Sakariya, the 20-year-old who made his debut this season, was rewarded for his tight lines and subtle movement with Karun Nair’s wicket, leaving Karnataka 30 for 4. Agarwal had survived a very confident appeal for lbw against Sakariya earlier, but he fell without adding to his score.
However, Pandey came out with positive intent and in partnership with vice-captain Shreyas Gopal, stabilised Karnataka somewhat. Pandey had spent the previous two days polishing his attacking game in the nets, and he brought his full repertoire to the middle, driving and flicking with élan. He got to a half-century at quicker than a run-a-ball, and forced Unadkat to pull back from all-out attack to slightly more in-and-out fields.
At the other end, Shreyas was more patient, content to bide his time and display his batting chops. He had the majority of the strike in the partnership, and at the break, the duo had taken Karnataka to 128 for 4 in 36 overs.