Gowtham's five-for routs Delhi for bonus-point win

Karnataka 414 (Gautam 63*, Agarwal 56, Nair 53, Samarth 53, Sood 4-80) beat Delhi 90 (Aravind 4-12, Gowtham 3-26) and 164 (Sood 41*, Gowtham 5-35) by an innings and 160 runs

No Delhi batsman managed a half-century in the match as they folded twice inside three days in Kolkata © PTI

Delhi’s coach KP Bhaskar lamented how batsmen these days, particularly in domestic cricket, undermined the use of technique in search of flexibility. “Back in our days, technique was most important. Then came potential, and fitness was third. Today, technique has gone to number three.” On Saturday, the third day in Kolkata, his batsmen did not do much to disprove that theory as Karnataka won by an innings and 160 runs to walk away with seven points.

That Delhi were nearly bowled out twice in under a session each time, even as Karnataka stacked up 414 showed the Eden Gardens surface was not to blame for the batting debacle. This was a classic case of what Daljit Singh, BCCI’s chief curator, termed the “middle wicket” that assisted seamers early on, eased out for batsmen to make merry and then took turn. By being bowled out for 90 in the first innings, Delhi did not give themselves a chance to make best use of the surface, where as many as five Karnataka batsmen made half-centuries.

If it was S Aravind, who ran through Delhi’s line-up in a fine exhibition of seam bowling in the first innings, offspinner K Gowtham, playing in only his second first-class game in nearly four years, did the bulk of the damage on Saturday. That he had the luxury of attacking fields helped him lure the batsmen repeatedly with flight. And batsmen fell into the trap of trying to break free. The end result was a maiden five-wicket haul.

After a failure in the first innings, this was an opportunity for Gautam Gambhir to knuckle down and bat long. If match time was what he wanted, he could not have asked for a better challenge. Abhimanyu Mithun, darting the ball both ways, and Aravind, coming off a four-for in the first innings, tested Gambhir’s front-foot play. But three plays and misses later, he poked at an away-going delivery that was gobbled at second slip by Robin Uthappa. Mithun had two in two when he got a ball to deviate late to square up Dhruv Shorey and hit the top of off stump.

Nitish Rana held fort briefly for 28 runs, but was foxed by a straighter one from Gowtham. Delhi’s lack of application and match awareness increasingly became visible when Rishabh Pant, coming off a triple-century in the previous game against Maharashtra in Mumbai, started with a six, but fell soon after when he was sucked into a drive that carried to second slip. Unmukt Chand, the vice-captain, tried to fetch a slog sweep from outside off, only to top-edge to Karun Nair at first slip. At 94 for 7, there was a possibility of the match finishing before lunch.

That they just managed to stretch it beyond was largely due to Karnataka switching off briefly as the interval approached. It took them little over 10 overs into the second session to wrap up the match, when Aravind, quite fittingly, had the final wicket when the ball beat Pawan Suyal’s slog to send the off stump on a cartwheel. Varun Sood swung his way to 41 not out in the interim, when Delhi needed to bat out 180 overs to save the game.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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