The Karnataka fast bowler has heeded Abhimanyu Mithun’s advice throughout the year and has also worked on free batting.
In a Chepauk turner, where 21 of 31 wickets have fallen for spin so far, Vyshak Vijaykumar turned out to be the point of difference between the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka bowling attacks with his hustle and ability to generate reverse swing. . He also made a strong impression with the new ball by removing N Jagadeesan, the second-highest runner in this Ranji season, off Ajit Agarkar, India’s chief selector, on a track that offered very little to the seamers.
Vyshak secured a first innings lead of 215 runs for Karnataka by removing M Mohammed, Ajith Ram and B Indrajith, Tamil Nadu’s top scorer, in successive overs on the third morning. Vyshak reached a long over and found reverse swing to remove Tamil Nadu’s lower order and dismiss them for 151, in reply to Karnataka’s 366.
“On this surface, when I tried to reverse the ball, I was doing something,” Vyshak said after the third day of play. “We talked about it before we came in because it was a red-dirt wicket. So we knew the ball was going to reverse. It was obviously difficult for the fast bowlers. Our plan was simple: we had to keep it under two run-outs.”
While V Kaverappa bowled with immaculate control (he finished with figures of 16-8-14-1 in the first innings), Vyshak continued to hit the ball in the middle space. It is because of this feature that Karnataka chose Vyshak instead of V Koushik, who is more of a swing player, for the match against Tamil Nadu.
“I’ve been bowling for short spells, so the captain has been kind,” Vyshak said. “It is very hot (in Chennai). (Bowling) in the first and second sessions is very difficult. It eases a little in the third session, but in the first two periods… we always talk about doing our best with three or four overs.”
Vyshak’s spell, in particular, was a throwback to the innings of Abhimanyu Mithun, who used to be Karnataka’s enforcer when he operated alongside Vinay Kumar or Sreenath Aravind. Vyshak has been training with Mithun for the past few years to become a more versatile bowler.
“Yes, he is a legend,” Vyshak said of Mithun. “Mithun, Vinay have been doing this for a long time. So, I have worked with Mithun for more than a year. He told me what to do when the wicket doesn’t help (me). He also told me what not to do.” do.”
So what exactly was Mithun’s advice to Vyshak? “It was simple: if there is no help from the field, we have to bend our back even more and reach length even better. We must not give runs and make it easy for the batsmen. Yes, it is a flat wicket for a fast bowler, but the plan is just to keep it at the right length.”
“If there is no help from the field, we have to bend our back even more and reach length even better. We must not give up runs and make it easy for the batters.”Vyshak Vijaykumar following Abhimanyu Mithun’s advice
Vyshak has also contributed immensely with the bat in this Ranji season. During his Under-16 days, Vyshak was primarily a batsman, but at some point he lost confidence in that ability. But he has now regained that confidence, having scored 183 runs in ten innings in 2023-24. The tally includes a first half-century against Tripura in Agartala. Against Tamil Nadu, he took on his spinners and became the only Karnataka batsman to get over the boundary in the second innings.
“There was a lack of confidence in my batting this year. Mayank and Manish (Pandey) helped me a lot during the break, which I had before the Vijay Hazare or Syed Mushtaq Ali (Trophy). That’s when I thought I should bat freely because last year past was just trying to defend. “This year I wanted to hit freely.”
The fact that Karnataka is in a dominant position vis-à-vis Tamil Nadu is also due to the all-round efforts of Hardik Raj. The 17-year-old, who plays left-arm finger bowling, has made a seamless transition from the age group tournaments to the Ranji Trophy. Raj made a fifty in Karnataka’s first innings and then removed two left-handers – R Vimal Khumar and R Sai Kishore. Vyshak, who captains Raj at Gulbarga Mystics in the Maharaja T20 tournament, was excited about the teenager’s progress.
“As a kid, when we picked him, we didn’t know who he was, but when I saw him online I thought ‘this kid is special’ because it’s confidence that has brought him here,” Vyshak said. “He dives into the ground while fielding and even batting or bowling, he wants to give everything to the team. So when it comes to a youngster, that’s what you look at. If you have someone like him in a team, you don’t “You need no one else.”
Both Vyshak and Raj will have an even bigger role to play on Monday if Karnataka is to pick up six points and climb to the top of Group C in the Elite table.
Deivarayan Muthu is Deputy Editor of ESPNcricinfo