PRITHVI DATTA CHANDRA SHOBHI writes: Ranganath Vinay Kumar doesn’t quite look like the prototypical fast bowler. At five feet eight inches, his physique doesn’t strike fear like his new-ball partner Abhimanyu Mithun‘s does.
Off the field, he doesn’t strut around like a show pony.
On the field, he doesn’t lock eyeballs with rival batsmen; doesn’t show them the shortest route to the pavilion.
He will run in smoothly without fuss and bowl with a fluent action. He will bowl the right length and move the ball just enough. He will run and dive around. And he will bat.
Today, at the Gangothri Glades in Mysore, on the 333rd day of his 25th year, on the first day of the finals of the Ranji Trophy in its 75th year, Vinay Kumar brought all those traits to the turf, as he led Karnataka bowlers to restrict Bombay to 233 in the first innings, picking up his 40th, 41st, 42nd and 43rd wickets of the season.
He returned a few minutes later as the night watchman and batted fluently for nearly 20 minutes.
In a brilliant opening spell (7-2-17-3) on a firm, hard green wicket (see picture), Vinay bowled full and made the batsmen play. While Mithun and fellow seamer S. Arvind struggled, Vinay took full advantage of the pace friendly wicket, which seamers don’t usually come across in this country. Two lovely outswingers accounted for Sahil Kukreja and Ajinkya Rehane, while Wasim Jaffer fell to a superb reflex catch at short by Ganesh Satish.
Vinay’s day wasn’t done as he came back to bowl several short spells and provided an important breakthrough by getting rid of Iqbal Abdulla, who played a neat little cameo, before finally returning as the nightwatchman when Robin Utthappa fell in the fourth over of the Karnataka’s innings.
He looked comfortable against a good Bombay seam attack, defending quite well against both the short stuff and seaming new ball.
Abhimanyu Mithun has that awkward look of someone who until two years ago played mostly tennisball cricket. His knees refuse to lift as he walks. His toes point outward and he puts his body weight on the edges of his feet. His shirt sleeves are rolled up and he looks like a reluctant cricketer.
He seems to come alive on a cricket pitch only as he runs into bowl.
This morning, Mithun didn’t bowl too well as he pitched short and wide, when he pitched it up. He didn’t seem to be in rhythm, as he seemed to try too much on a wicket where he only needed to bowl full and on the wicket. When he returned for his second spell, he bowled his best and removed both Abhishek Nayar and O.J. Khanvilkar with fuller, yorker length deliveries. He ended the day with three wickets.
Between them, Vinay and Mithun seem to define the character of this young Karnataka team, where the veteran Sunil Joshi is the only player over the age of 26. They kept the pressure on Bombay throughout the day, took wickets regularly, didn’t allow any partnership to build.
Karnataka’s catching was outstanding, as they took four superb catches close to the wicket. Jaffer was out to a great reflex catch by Ganesh Satish at forward shortleg off Vinay Kumar’s bowling. Local boy K.B. Pawan stretched full length to his right at gully to take a chest high upper cut by Romesh Pawar and Amit Verma at first slip caught an absolute blinder by jumping up to catch a firm top edge by Iqbal Abdulla.
Manish Pandey dived forward to take a difficult chance at point inches off the ground off a firm cut by Vinayak Samant, Mumbai’s top scorer. This should be an interesting contest even though Karnataka have an edge. The wicket at Gangothri Glades will hold firm and offer pace as well as bounce to bowlers.
The conversation among the spectators invariably turned to Bombay’s competitive nature, evident today in their reluctance to leave when they got out as well as repeated and often needless appealing when they bowled at the end of the day. If they get early wickets tomorrow, they can put pressure on Karnataka’s young batsmen who will sorely miss Rahul Dravid‘s reassuring presence.
Perhaps when play resumes in the morning, Vinay Kumar’s presence at the wicket will count. At the crease, he seems unruffled, reassuring, and plays the short ball very well. If he bats for a while, that might help his young teammates to settle. That’s an awful lot to ask from a puny pacer from Davanagere, which isn’t known to produce either one-drop
batsmen or opening bowlers.
Photographs: Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi (top), The Hindu 2008 file
First day scorecard: Bombay 233 all out, Karnataka 15 for one
Cricinfo match report: Vinay, Mithun torment Bombay