New Delhi: Karnataka reaffirmed their status as the giants of domestic cricket outclassing Railways by 136 runs to record their third successive outright victory in this year's Ranji Trophy Cricket Tournament.
Such has been the dominance of the Ranji champions that they are now on 18 points from three games with Jammu and Kashmir, a distant second with nine points in their kitty. Pacer Abhimanyu Mithun wreaked havoc with 5/31 as Karnataka dismissed Railways for 114 in 43 overs, chasing a tricky target of 251 after the visitors declared on 174 for five.
For Mithun, the sporting declaration and going all-out for an outright win in adverse condition was a testimony to the fact that most of the Karnataka players aspire to wear the national colours.
With Delhi's foggy conditions robbing crucial match time, Karnataka batted only eight overs on the final morning before setting a target of 251 for the hosts on a seaming Karnail Singh Stadium track.
"All the players are willing to play for India. Individually, they want to perform for themselves but at the end of the day it is helping Karnataka. Bowlers come, take wickets and batsmen want to play big innings everytime they come out to bat," said Mithun, who himself has played 4 Tests and 5 ODIs for India.
"We are working on our individual role but we are also helping each other for success of the team," said the 25-year-old.
It was his devastating spell that helped Karnataka clean up Railways for 114 at the Karnail Singh Stadium. The visitors took 43 overs to take ten wickets after declaring at 174 for five at lunch, setting Railways a 251-run target.
"After lunch, we had around 55 overs left. We took a chance and delivered. I am happy with my effort too. I was bowling really well from the one-dayers. So rhythm is there and I got the result here too," said Mithun, who was the leading wicket-taker in Vijay Hazare Trophy (one-day meet) that Karnataka defended last month.
Few would bet against Karnataka also defending the Ranji Trophy title with the way they have begun this season.
Ther presence of Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey and Karun Nair make them a formidable batting unit despite Lokesh Rahul being called up for India duty in Australia.
Besides Mithun, captain Vinay Kumar and Stuart Binny are the other bowlers with international experience. Medium pacer Sreeanth Aravind too has returned well from injury and not to forget was once selected in an Indian ODI squad, three years back.
Uthappa, who was Man of the Match for his 40 and 97 on a difficult wicket, had yesterday backed his team to win on the final day with a bowling line-up to boast about. And Mithun and co did deliver.
"We now have a 10-day break after this match. We planned it that way. We needed to get an outright win," said Mithun. Asked how feels to be part of the strongest domestic attack, Mithun said they all feel the pressure to perform.
"It is challening too. Whenver you get the ball, you need to deliver. Everyone is a strike bowler in our team, so there is pressure too. Having said that, everyone is putting their hundred percent," said the new ball bowler.
"It (attack like ours) also plays on the opposition's mind. In a situation like today, they will already be on the backfoot," said Mithun, adding not being part of IPL last season, helped him improve his skills.
Brief Scores: Karnataka 247 & 174/5 decl (Robin Uthappa 97, Karun Nair 63, Anureet Singh 3/67, KK Upadhyay 2/61) Railways 171 & (target 251) 114 in 43 overs (Anushtup Majumdar 26 no, Abhimanyu Mithun 5/31, R Vinay Kumar 2/37, S Binny 1/32, S Aravind 1/8). Karnataka won by 136 runs.
Points: Karnataka 6; Railways 0.