Tons of agony for Mumbai

Verma hits century, Pandey double hundred as Karnataka prosper

Tons of agony for Mumbai

Verma’s century along with a double hundred from Manish Pandey, who returned to add 99 runs to his overnight 101, steered Karnataka to a mammoth first innings total of 635 for nine declared on the second day of their Ranji Elite Group ‘A’ match against Mumbai. The hosts were 37 for the loss of skipper Wasim Jaffer, who was trapped leg before by his Karnataka counterpart R Vinay Kumar for nought, at close.

Pandey’s double hundred will get its due accolades as it was a brilliantly executed knock, more traditional than the previous day but no less entertaining. But the hero of the day tag will certainly go to Verma, who compiled his fifth first-class hundred to squeeze the spirit out of Mumbai.

A strong batting effort by Karnataka on the day had its genesis in the resolute sixth-wicket stand of 119 runs between Verma and Vinay. The visitors started the day on a less than satisfactory 319 for five, and they needed plenty more runs to put Mumbai under pressure on an absolute shirtfront.

An early wicket would have put Karnataka under immense pressure, and Mumbai bowlers made a rather lively beginning to the day testing the two visiting batsmen with a series of short-pitched deliveries. But Verma and Vinay were equal to the task.

They consumed 253 balls during their alliance, blunting Mumbai’s edge, and also gave Karnataka a platform from where they could build a substantial total. Vinay, who made a patient fifty (57, 136b, 6x4, 1x6), finally succumbed to Ramesh Powar.

At 387 for six, Karnataka were not precisely out of the woods, and there would not have been a better man to come out at that stage than Pandey, confident after making a hundred on the first day. There were no signs of cramps that forced him to return to the hut on Thursday evening as he batted fluently in the company of Verma.

Verma defies the image of an elegant left-handed batsman as he resorts more on practical methods to collect his runs, and that in no way reduces his efficiency. True to his ways, Verma, who was 44 overnight, had a rather muted beginning to his innings on the opening day, but he was far more relaxed at the crease on the day, playing some delicate shots on either side of the wicket.

There was a late cut off Ajit Agarkar, a well-timed cover drive off Dhawal Kulkarni, and against spinners Verma was the most assured, never allowing the Mumbai troika – Powar, Iqbal Adbulla and Ankeet Chavan – to settle down.

But there were instances when he shed his caution to embrace an aggressive approach, and surprisingly, it came when he was in the 90s. Without nudging around, Verma smashed Powar for two sixes to the long-off area to bring his hundred, but to his credit the southpaw showed a willingness to continue, and etched big hundred against his name, his highest so far in first-class cricket.

Before eventually getting stumped off Powar, Verma, who raised 157 off 178 with Pandey, ensured that Karnataka reached safe shores, and that position was further cemented by Pandey and Abhimanyu Mithun, who flogged the dead horse to make a quick 45, during their hurricane half-century stand.

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