Skipper R. Vinay Kumar grabbed six for 47 and put Ranji Trophy champions Karnataka into a sound position against Rest of India, who were all out for 201 despite a valiant 91 by Dinesh Karthik on Day 1 of the Irani Cup here on Sunday. In reply, Karnataka were 35/1 at stumps after losing Robin Uthappa, who was caught in the slips while attempting a drive off Ashoke Dinda in the first over of the innings.
Earlier, opening the bowling after Karnataka opted to field, Vinay took three wickets in 13 deliveries to leave Rest of India on 12/3. The 29-year-old later showcased his bowling prowess with the old ball as he took another three scalps in the space of five deliveries as Rest of India collapsed to 201.
Lending Vinay Kumar excellent support was seamer Stuart Binny, who picked up 3/35 on the back of some tight, line-length bowling. The saving grace for Rest of India was Karthik's fighting knock (184b, 14x4) as the Tamil Nadu batsman, struggling for runs this season during which he scored just one century, held his end up with typical resoluteness to prop up his side's innings.
Karthik was involved in three crucial partnerships of 42 with opener Gautam Gambhir (22) for the fourth wicket, 67 with Amit Mishra (47) for the sixth and 70 with Harbhajan Singh (25) for the seventh as he guided Rest of India through troubled waters.
Karthik displayed a lot of patience and denied himself the freedom until after he crossed the 50-run mark before opening out with a series of shots marked by good timing.
Even granting that some of the Karnataka bowlers were guilty of pitching it short or offering juicy half-volleys, Karthik batted sensibly and waited for the loose balls. However, just as he looked set for a century, he fell to a mistimed sweep-slog off Binny to be caught brilliantly by a leaping Uthappa at mid-on.
As well as Karthik batted, it was Vinay Kumar who emerged hero of the day with his six-wicket haul. He started by trapping opener Jiwanjot Singh plumb in front off the first delivery of the match and then earning similar decisions against Baba Aparajith (2) and Kedar Jadhav (2).
In between, Mishra provided some entertainment with some audacious stroke play but he chanced his arm once too often to be caught at slip in attempting a cut and provided the lone wicket for seamer H.S. Sharath.
The pitch, with a greenish tinge, offered some movement early on as Vinay Kumar was able to bend the ball back into the batsmen to trap them in front. Later, bowling with the old ball, he managed to extract some reverse movement to complete a fine performance. Binny proved to be an ideal foil for Vinay Kumar as the seamer, though lacking in express pace, kept the batsmen on a tight leash.