A stern test awaits for Vinay and Company

Bengaluru: After being unable to defend the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Karnataka will have an uphill task in ensuring a good show in the upcoming Ranji Trophy and replicating the success of the 2014-15 season when they emerged champions under R Vinay Kumar’s captaincy. While they had their best batsmen in the previous seasons, Karnataka will now be playing most of the matches without their run-getters K.L. Rahul and Manish Pandey.  

Rahul and Pandey will be serving the country in the upcoming tour of Australia from where Manish will join the India ‘A’ team for the limited over matches against New Zealand ‘A’.  Karnataka will also be losing their opener Mayank Aggarwal, who was the highest run-getter in the 2017-18 season.

The bowling department of the state looks compact with Vinay leading the pacers, assisted by Abhimanyu Mithun and Ronit More. It will be a different ball game altogether for Prasidh Krishna, who will be donning whites for the first time for his state team after a decent run in the IPL this year. 

Shreyas Gopal will be the lone spinner, the team will be banking upon since K Gowtham will be playing for India ‘A’.

In the wicket-keeping section, veteran keeper C.M. Gautam has been replaced by the duo of young wicket-keepers B.R. Sharath and Sharath Srinivas for the opening game. Gautam scored 285 runs in eight games, consisting of only two half-centuries.

Coach Yere Goud sees the absence of big names as an opportunity for the fringe players and expects a sense of responsibility from them. “Yes, we will be missing key players, we will miss their experience, but we have players who can take that responsibility. We have batsmen like D. Nischal, K.V. Siddharth and Shishir Bhavane, who are capable. We are also looking at guys who have performed for the U-23 side, like Devdutt Padikkal and Shubhang Hegde,” Goud said.Also, all eyes would also be on Karun Nair, one of the leading run-getters for Karnataka, who would be eying this season as a means of making a comeback to the Indian team. “I will continue to do what I do best, try to score more and more runs and hopefully win matches for the team,” he said on the question of setting goals and planning a comeback in whites.The former champions will start their campaign in an away game against Faiz Fazal’s Vidarbha starting from November 12 at Nagpur. 

Vinay Kumar’s leadership will be severely tested as they would be playing against heavyweights like Mumbai, Saurashtra, and Gujarat as the season progresses. Interestingly this year, Karnataka won’t have the luxury of playing at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium as their home games have been allocated to Belagavi, Mysuru, Shivamogga and Alur Cricket Stadium respectively.Vinay Kumar will be playing his 100th Ranji match on Monday and will become only the third player after Sunil Joshi (117) and Brijesh Patel (104) to achieve the feat. Overall it would be his 124th first-class appearance. 

Squad: Vinay Kumar(c), Karun Nair, Ravikumar Samarth, Krishnamurthy Siddharth, Dega Nischal, Shreyas Gopal, Stuart Binny, Pavan Deshpande, Jagadeesha Suchith, Prasidh Krishna, Shishir Bhavane, Ronit More, Abhimanyu Mithun, Sharath BR, Srinivas Sharath.  

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