Irani Trophy 2014-15: Varun Aaron's 6-for blows Karnataka apart
Bengaluru, March 17 (IANS) Bowling fiery spells, Varun Aaron picked up 6/63 as Rest of India, opting to field on winning the toss, restricted Ranji Trophy champions Karnataka to 244 in their first innings on the first day of the five-day Irani Cup here on Tuesday. The visitors were 20/1 at stumps.
Aaron, having recovered from a muscle injury that abruptly ended his Test series in Australia last winter, generated good pace on a greenish pitch and none of the batsmen looked convincing playing the fast bowler from Jharkhand.
Half-centuries by opener Mayank Agarwal (68, 13x4), Karun Nair (59, 11x4) and debutant Abhishek Reddy (54, 10x4) propped up Karnataka as Aaron sliced through the line-up while left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha came away with 2/35 and wicket-keeper Naman Ojha pouched six catches to equal the Irani Cup record by Nayan Mongia.
Rest of India's reply began ominously with Unmukt Chand losing his off-stump to Vinay Kumar off the very first delivery of the innings as the batsman sought to leave the ball that held its line. Jiwanjot Singh (16) and Paras Dogra (4) then saw through the remaining overs.
Earlier, Karnataka never quite took off with the Rest of India seamers, particularly Aaron and Rishi Dhawan, troubling the batsmen. However, a couple of dropped catches denied them more success.
Rest of India drew first blood as opener Robin Uthappa (10) was caught behind by Naman Ojha off Aaron, pushing tentatively outside the off-stump.
Ravikumar Samarth (20), dropped early in the slips, and Agarwal added 40 runs for the second wicket before the former nicked Dhawan to Ojha as Karnataka went to lunch at 90/2.
Soon after lunch, Karnataka lost two quick wickets, those of Manish Pandey (3) and Agarwal, who until then had batted well enough to look good for a big score.
Aaron, in the midst of a hostile spell, got rid of Pandey (3), who edged to Ojha, in much the same fashion as Uthappa and Samarth, the lack of footwork contributing to his exit in the first over after lunch. A little later, Agarwal edged an intended cut to offer Ojha his fourth catch of the innings.
Thereafter, Nair, triple centurion in the final last week against Tamil Nadu, and debutant Ashish Reddy, who was fortunate to be dropped by skipper Manoj Tiwary in the slips off Dhawan when on 15 in a total of 137, rebuilt the innings with a mix of caution and aggression adding 113 runs for the fifth wicket as Karnataka recovered to 194/4 at tea.
The scenario altered dramatically on resumption as Rest of India struck three quick blows in just six deliveries.
Mumbai seamer Shardul Thakur had Reddy caught by Ojha on the leg-side as the batsman gloved a pull shot and Aaron came up with a double strike in the next over with Nair edging a drive to the slips and Vinay Kumar trapped plumb in front to have Karnataka slide to 226/7.
The end followed swiftly as Pragyan Ojha came up with a double strike, removing Shreyas Gopal (5) and Sreenath Arvind (0) before Aaron picked up his sixth wicket with probably his best delivery of the innings, a slow, back-of-the-hand ball that struck Abhimanyu Mithun (11) in front to complete fine performance.
Brief scores: Karnataka 244 all out (Mayank Agarwal 68, Karun Nair 59, Abhishek Reddy 54; Varun Aaron 6/63, Pragyan Ojha 2/35) vs Rest of India 20/1.