Vinay rues missed opportunity by batsmen
He had become only the sixth pace bowler to have earned 300 wickets in Ranji Trophy. With his third five-for of the season, he had moved within striking distance of ending the season as the leading wicket-taker. Still, Vinay Kumar hardly smiled during his post-match interaction. Instead, the Karnataka captain rued the opportunity missed by his top-order batsmen.
"If we had lost only one or two wickets it would have been great. But in such low-scoring games the opposition comes hard at you. The same thing happened against Mumbai [in the semi-final] when we were all out for 202. If you get one-two wickets early you get momentum. Hopefully we can break that momentum tomorrow and start fresh," Vinay said after the first day of Karnataka's final against Tamil Nadu.
"We could have left a few balls and Manish [Pandey] also got out for one bad shot. It is a low-scoring game. The mindset is different after getting the team out for a low score. The batsmen tend to relax a bit and maybe that is why we lost one or two wickets. Unfortunately, [KL] Rahul came out [retired hurt], otherwise he would have handled the new ball."
On a day that saw disciplined pace bowling and lacklustre batting from both the sides, Karnataka dug themselves into a hole with four of their top five batsmen dismissed attempting strokes that could have been avoided. It resulted in them reeling at 45 for 4, in reply to Tamil Nadu's 134. This was the sixth time the defending champions had lost four wickets for a double-digit score this season.
The only solace for Karnataka going into the second day's play would be that Rahul, who is making his first appearance in a Ranji final, will be "fine tomorrow," and will be able to bat. "Because of the slide, he went towards the slope and pulled a hamstring," Vinay said.
The opener, fresh of a maiden Test hundred in Sydney and a triple century, the first for Karnataka, first pulled his hamstring while attempting to stop a ball at the third-man boundary in the 60th over of the day. Twenty minutes into his innings, Rahul stretched the left hamstring again while running a single, and decided to return to the pavilion.
Rahul's wicket could well turn out to be the decisive factor between a close first innings and a decisive lead.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo