CHENNAI: A victory margin of 117 was resounding for Karnataka. As Prasidh Krishna dismissed Jammu & Kashmir's No 11 Umran Malik with a slower one for his 10th wicket of the match at the IIT-Chemplast ground in Chennai, it took Karnataka to the top of Group C.
In a format, where there is almost no space for a bad outing, Karnataka are in pole position to advance to the knockouts as Group C winners.
Their next match is against Pondicherry, a team they should win hands down any day. But the venue for that fixture – the SSN College – is in the outskirts of Chennai and a low-pressure area that has developed in the Bay of Bengal could potentially play spoil sport.
In case, Karnataka are not able to get a win, then Jammu & Kashmir stand a chance to advance to the knockouts, provided they beat Railways in the third round fixture at the IIT-Chemplast.
“We are not really looking that far ahead (knockouts). We are taking one match at a time by building confidence gradually. And the team is responding to it and we are looking forward to finish the game on a high. That will be great for us,” Karnataka captain Manish Pandey said.
In a group where Karnataka vs Jammu & Kashmir was always going to decide who tops the table, the former raised the game when it mattered the most.
Although the margin of victory sounds big, there was a period on Day 4 where Ian Dev Singh (110) and Abdul Samad (70) threatened Manish Pandey's side.
Chasing 508 was always going to be a peak impossible to climb, but the duo showed J&K won't be any pushovers.
The 143-run stand that came off just 169 deliveries, left Karnataka short on answers for the major part.
With no real demons in the pitch, skipper Singh and Samad were confident in their aggressive approach, scoring boundaries and sixes at will.
That Karnatata were without their fifth bowler as pacer Ronit More couldn't take the field with back spasms only made it easy.
“Ronit is a fast-bowling strength to us. And it is quite unlucky he has missed out. And definitely it was worrying because we had only four bowlers. So full credit to Prasidh (Krishna and Vidyadhir (Patil) for bowling the way they did as a fast bowling unit. Every time I asked them to come and bowl a few more overs, they were ready for it. I'm quite happy with their performance,” Pandey said.
If Singh was calculative in his strokeplay, Samad was at his free-flowing best. Anything that was pitched in his slot, disappeared beyond the boundary. While the duo handled all the bowlers with ease, their real struggle was against K Gowtham.
The extra bounce that the off-spinner extracted repeatedly tested the batters and that is what gave Karnataka the breakthrough they were looking for.
Samad tried to unsettle Gowtham by going for a sweep, but only for the extra-bounce to hit the gloves and give an easy catch to wicketkeeper BR Sharath.
From there on, it was always going to be a matter of when and although Parvez Rasool (46) and Abid Mushtaq (43) did score a few to boost J&K's total, Karnataka attack kept taking wickets and finished the game in the first session after the umpires extended play for 15 minutes.