Karnataka and Rajasthan, the top two sides in Elite Group ‘C’, go face to face in the Ranji Trophy at Alur (II) here on Tuesday.
Karnataka, which gained a win over Chhattisgarh in the previous fixture, is at the helm with 19 points. Rajasthan, with one win and three draws so far, lies second with 14 points.
Karnataka enters this fixture full of confidence, having forced a win over Chhattisgarh at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here a few days ago. Chhattisgarh had entered the final day set for a draw, but a terrific effort from pacer Vyshak Vijaykumar triggered a collapse. Out of nowhere, Chhattisgarh was dismissed for 177 in the second essay, allowing Karnataka to knock off the 123-run target in the evening session.
Rajasthan will have to contend with a fine new ball pairing in Vyshak and Vidwath Kaverappa. While Vyshak hits the deck and moves the ball in, Kaverappa keeps a tight line and takes it out. Vyshak and Kaverappa have 17 wickets each, making them the leading bowlers for the side.
Captain Mayank Agarwal’s return to form also augurs well for the home side. Mayank made a crucial 117 against Chhattisgarh, improving upon his three fifties earlier in the tournament. His opening partner R. Samarth is in great touch as well, only narrowly missing out on recording four centuries in a row.
One-drop Nikin Jose may be early in his First Class career, but the temperament and clean technique displayed in his batting shows that he belongs at this level.
Karnataka will expect more from its spinners K. Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal. Off-spinner Gowtham competes with great desire and enthusiasm, but the wickets have eluded him. Shreyas has bowled only 48 overs in three matches, and has three wickets to his name.
Rajasthan went all guns blazing for a win against Jharkhand, and only fell short on time. Yash Kothari led the charge on the final day with an 85-ball 95, with the side needing 276 to win in quick time. Debutant Karan Lamba made his mark with an unbeaten 122 in the first essay.
Experienced left-arm pacers Tanveer Ul-Haq and Aniket Choudhary can trouble the Karnataka batters with their accuracy and movement.