Delhi v Karnataka, Ranji Trophy, Group A, 4th day January 2, 2014

Karnataka thump Delhi for fifth straight win

The Report by Amit Shetty in Delhi

Karnataka 289 (Nair 105, Binny 88) and 116 for 2 (Agarwal 68*) beat Delhi 202 (Gambhir 54, Vinay Kumar 4-40) and 201 (Gopal 3-23, Sharath 3-35) by eight wickets

Victory was a mere formality for Karnataka, as the Group B toppers outplayed Delhi without breaking much sweat by chasing down a modest 115 in 28.1 overs to set up a quarterfinal clash with Uttar Pradesh in Bangalore.

It was always a question of when rather than if Karnataka would collect another six points, and the inevitable win was sealed an hour before tea, as Mayank Agarwal made merry of Delhi's below-par spin attack by scoring an unbeaten 68 with three sixes and six fours.

This was after the hosts had lost their final four wickets for just 69 runs in the morning, as the team were dismissed for 201 in 77.4 overs. While Milind Kumar resisted with an unbeaten 31, Delhi's lower-order didn't show much stomach for fight.

Varun Sood was the first to walk back - bowled for a duck- when a delivery from HS Sharath kept low. Milind Kumar and Sumit Narwal resisted for 17.2 overs, but it was more about delaying the inevitable defeat, as they never looked like playing positive cricket.

The ultra-slow nature of the track made matters worse during the pair's 40-run stand. Finally, it was left-arm spinner Abrar Kazi who made the breakthrough by bowling a delivery that trickled down the pitch to get Narwal bowled.

Ashish Nehra, whose batting has been a revelation this season, played 22 balls for his 14, but was out when he tried to slog-sweep Shreyash Gopal. Manoj Chauhan also didn't last long, as Delhi could only muster a lead of 114.

Karnataka lost their first-innings centurion Karun Nair in the eighth over, but Agarwal remained unfazed and took the attack to the Delhi bowlers. One of his three sixes, off left-arm spinner Manan Sharma, hit the second tier of the Feroz Shah Kotla stand before landing onto the ground on the rebound.

Offspinner Manoj Chauhan wasn't spared either, as he was repeatedly hit in the arc between long-off and long-on by Agarwal. The batsman added 88 runs for the second wicket with Ravikumar Samarth, before the latter was bowled attempting a big hit off Manan.

Manish Pandey then finished off the match with a four and six off successive deliveries from Chauhan.

The loss brought an end to another disappointing campaign for Delhi, who have now not qualified for the knockouts for five straight seasons.

The team spirit is lacking, and they have received little by way of help from the seniors. Virender Sehwag has been out of form while Gautam Gambhir, despite scoring 578 runs, would be the first to admit that he didn't look convincing in his strokeplay for the better part of the season.

Only Nehra , with 28 scalps, looked like he was enjoying his cricket. Juniors like Unmukt Chand, Vaibhav Rawal and Milind failed to grab their opportunities, and the injury to seamer Parvinder Awana in the second innings against Punjab was yet another blow to them. Delhi's fielding has left much to be desired as well. Sehwag dropped a dolly offered by Jiwanjot Singh in the previous game which was the turning point of the match and arguably, Delhi's entire campaign.

It will be time for introspection for the seniors. Especially Sehwag, who is battling against time to save his career.