Ranji Trophy 2012-13, Ranji Trophy, Group B, 1st day December 8, 2012

Karnataka coach defends decision to bat first

After Karnataka were rolled over for 192 on the opening day of their encounter against Delhi at home, the point of debate was the wisdom of opting to bat first on a grassy pitch. Their batting coach J Arunkumar defended the move, saying the batsmen had come out with a plan to bat positively after seeing off the new ball. He admitted that the batsmen failed to execute their plans properly, playing the wrong shots before getting settled.

Robin Uthappa was out in the first over to Ashish Nehra - to an lbw call that Arunkumar called "dicey" - and that opened the floodgates as Karnataka struggled to build partnerships and lost wickets at regular intervals.

"It was a collective decision to bat first. We felt it was a good surface to bat on if you played positively and the batsmen went with that mindset," Arunkumar said. "Unfortunately, before they got settled they were dismissed. Robin's wicket was unfortunate. It looked a bit dicey. Nobody settled in long enough to start playing strokes. Stuart settled in and he too looked positive. We saw that Shikhar [Dhawan, the Delhi opener] also did the same."

Most of Karnataka's batsmen were done in by fine swing bowling by Parvinder Awana, who took 5 for 81, and contributions from Sumit Narwal, Rajat Bhatia and Nehra. The bowlers kept the ball up and the batsmen were guilty of several edges behind the wicket.

"The loss of wickets may have affected a few batsmen psychologically, especially those who are more particular about technique," Arunkumar said. "Those who bat aggressively may not have been affected."

Arunkumar, a former Karnataka batsman, said he was accustomed to such surfaces during his playing days. He said it was a kind of pitch which didn't give undue advantage to the bowlers, and that the batsmen could make decent scores on it too. "I have played on this type of pitch before, back when we used to have [Javagal] Srinath, [Venkatesh] Prasad, [Dodda] Ganesh. We used to get these pitches regularly. I have been quite successful here and you know as a batsman that the opportunity will come to drive and cut."

He said he didn't expect the pitch to change much in character on the second day. "The pitch will remain green. The top layer looks a bit loose and there are chances that the ball will keep low. In the last game [against Odisha] in the first innings there were indentations on the surface. Therefore we thought we should get first use of the pitch."

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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