Saurashtra v Karnataka, Ranji Trophy Quarter-Final, 4th day

Spinners let Karnataka down

Since Sunil Joshi's retirement, Karnataka's spin cupboard has been bare. It was evident today as Saurashtra feasted on some poor bowling, especially against the spinners

Siddarth Ravindran in Rajkot

January 9, 2013

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KP Appanna bowls during practice, November 19, 2007
File photo - KP Appanna leaked more than four an over and was a disappointment as the lead spinner © GoSports
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When Sunil Joshi was nearing the end of his illustrious career with Karnataka, there were some murmurs that by playing on past the age of 40, he was blocking the path of younger spinners in the state. The heir apparent to the illustrious lineage of Karnataka spinners - which includes Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, Raghuram Bhat and Anil Kumble - was KP Appanna, who had to wait four years since his debut as a 17-year-old in 2006-07 to get a run as the lead slow bowler.

Two seasons after Joshi's retirement though, the vacancy left by him is yet to be filled. It was never more evident than on the fourth day of the quarter-final in Rajkot, when Saurashtra's batsmen, led by the unstoppable Cheteshwar Pujara, pummelled Karnataka's attack for 463 runs in a day. Karnataka captain Stuart Binny had talked up how big a role the spinners will have to play on the day, and they trusted Appanna with the new ball.

The faith proved misplaced as, like for much of the season, Appanna couldn't maintain a consistent line and length and gifted away free runs. He bowled too many short deliveries, and wide ones, and just one maiden from him all day meant there was no pressure being built up on the batsmen. While Karnataka had two other spinners they could turn to - K Gowtham is in his first season and Amit Verma is only a part-time legspinner - which meant it was up to Appanna to deliver. He couldn't.

Usually, big scores in Rajkot are pooh-poohed on the basis that the pitches there tend to be extremely flat. That wasn't the case this time. Karnataka coach J Arunkumar was forthright in his criticism of the spinners. "Can't blame the pitch, the pitch is actually bad," he said. "We bowled in bad areas, the wicket is slow, you have to pitch it up, which our bowlers didn't do, our spinners didn't do. Bad bowling, we have to accept it."

Even Pujara, usually seen as a soft-spoken man not prone to talking down the opposition, was harsh on the Karnataka spinners. "The ball was turning but I think they did not bowl in the right areas. The bowlers were not mature enough. I feel that it is a kind of wicket where you can easily get ten wickets but I don't think they bowled well."

He felt the bowlers weren't aggressive enough. "I was in an attacking mood and they were a little negative. Defensive rather than negative. We were scoring too many boundaries and getting too many runs so rather than taking wickets they were trying to be defensive so that's the reason we could get away.

"In six balls, they were bowling just one or two good balls and if you defend them, you could score two-three boundaries after that."

Pujara had talked about how he had worked on his reverse-sweep to counter defensive bowling on the pads, and he unfurled it three times in a row against Appanna. "I just wanted to play that shot and I just wanted to make sure he comes within the stumps or he has to move out of the leg stump so that was my strategy."

While Appanna's average of over 50 this season isn't good enough for a frontline spinner, Karnataka don't really have too many options. Gowtham fared even worse than Appanna today, and provided loads of half-trackers on the pads. Appanna had been dropped for the crunch league match against Maharashtra last week, but his replacement SK Moinuddin didn't impress the management enough to retain his place, thereby giving Appanna another chance.

Like quality Test spinners for India, the supply line has run dry for Karnataka. "Regarding the history of spinners produced, this is a little shocking," Arunkumar said. "One of the spinners was inexperienced, but that is no reason (for the poor performance)."

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by SpeedCricketThrills on (January 10, 2013, 10:39 GMT)

Karnataka bowlers were clearly the laughing stock amongst all the 27 teams. Not sure if Kumble has paid attention to this area - firstly, he may have been complacent on this issue and did not see the glaring weakness in the team; secondly he is a very busy man and does not have time to get into the nitty-gritties; thirdly and most importantly, instead of utilizing the past bowling heroes from Karnataka to make it a better bowling unit, he has let go Prasad and Joshi, and doesn't seem to have called in the services of Bhatt, Jeshwanth and in a more senior advisory role, Prasanna. Many other teams - like Delhi, TN, Hyd did not even qualify but it is Karnataka alone that stands naked and exposed.One more failure next year, it would become clear that Kumble is not the man for the top job at KSCA

Posted by jimbond on (January 10, 2013, 6:59 GMT)

Appanna seemed to have good promise a few seasons ago. I wonder what Kumble and Prasanna have been up to. This guy definitely seems ot have lost his way.

Posted by prashanth_sanjose on (January 10, 2013, 5:19 GMT)

being Karnataka team supporter sad to see no good spinners in team. This year team performance was poor (excluding 2 games). Karnataka Bosses (Kumble, Prasad, Dravid need to put efforts to build good team)

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