Bengaluru, Jan 28: Champions Karnataka go up against Uttar Pradesh in their seventh round of the Group A Ranji Trophy league match commencing here Thursday with an opportunity to get back to winning ways after two consecutive draws.
With 29 points after six matches, Karnataka are virtually assured of a berth in the knockouts but their performance against Baroda at Mysuru in the previous game last week left a lot to be desired and the hosts were rather lucky to force a draw.
If anything, Karnataka's batting, despite inherent talent and experience, has been a tad inconsistent with the frontline batsmen failing to click in unison. The saving grace for Karnataka has been their bowling that helped them win four matches in a row at the start before two back-to-back draws with Madhya Pradesh and Baroda.
The return of Lokesh Rahul has certainly bolstered Karnataka's batting which otherwise has not exactly set the ground on fire despite the abundant talent.
On their part, the Piyush Chawla-led Uttar Pradesh started out well, defeating Madhya Pradesh in their opening fixture, but thereafter lost three of their next five matches to be left struggling on eight points. Two weather-affected drawn home games also did not help their cause.
On paper, Karnataka appear far better placed, especially in bowling with their three seamers, skipper Vinay Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun and Sreenath Arvind having taken 26 wickets apiece. In contrast, UP will be depending on their experienced seamers Praveen Kumar and Rudra Pratap Singh besides fellow paceman Amit Mishra, who have 34 wickets among them.
UP's batting has revolved around Tanmay Srivastava, their lone centurion this season while the others have not displayed the best of form, leaving the side rather short in this department.
Thus, pitted against comparatively weaker opponents, it will surprise none if Karnataka pick up full points that will effectively seal their knock-out berth, despite the up-and-down performance of their top order batsmen.