Bangalore, Nov 23 (IANS) Karnataka will be looking forward to their first home match of the new Ranji Trophy season for more reasons than one when they take on Odisha here Saturday.
With just five points from three away outings, Karnataka would be keen to get a move on against a pumped up Odisha who have seven points, including six from an outright victory over Haryana in their previous game.
Karnataka dropped points to Baroda and Uttar Pradesh by conceding a first innings lead. But a strong batting against arch rivals Tamil Nadu saw them overhaul a 538 first innings lead that fetched them three points.
Overall, Karnataka's batting, despite all the talent, has been way below expectations.
After being on the road for three weeks, they will relish the prospect of playing in familiar conditions.
Karnataka were rather fortunate to avoid a certain defeat against Uttar Pradesh at Meerut as they finished 274/8 chasing a target of 446 with the tail−enders standing firm.
The lack of consistency in their batting has been a millstone around Karnataka's neck. But over the next four days, they get the best opportunity to haul themselves back in contention.
A win will set them up nicely since they play their next four games at home.
Karnataka were without regular skipper and seamer Vinay Kumar whose absence due to injury weakened the bowling against Uttar Pradesh. The batsmen's inconsistency contributed to their disappointing campaign.
In contrast, Odisha, after sharing points with Tamil Nadu following a wash−out and losing outright to a strong Delhi, came into their own against Haryana with seamer Basanta Mohanty picking up nine wickets.
The Odisha batting, like Karnataka's, has been patchy. It was Mohanty's first innings spell that set up the win. Odisha made heavy weather of chasing down a target of 148 and lost six wickets in the process.
On paper, Karnataka look the better side. Should they play to their potential, chalking up their first win of the season is not beyond their ability.
On the other hand, Odisha will have their task cut−out as the hosts would be going for maximum points.