Pandey's ton gives Karnataka a ray of hope

Saurashtra take crucial innings lead

Pandey's ton gives Karnataka a ray of hope

Manish Pandey has had a horrid Ranji Trophy season thus far but on Tuesday he changed his luck and potentially Karnataka’s too as the youngster once again proved his big-match skills.

With Karnataka on the mat against Saurashtra’s well-oiled bowling unit, Pandey put on a show mixed with aggression and composure to score his ninth first-class century.

That landmark not only earned him his first century of the season, it also helped Karnataka wriggle their way out of a very dicey situation, managing to score 396 all out at stumps on the day three of their quarterfinals at the University of Saurashtra ground.

The hosts hold a 73-run lead with two days left, but if it wasn’t for the enterprise of Pandey and Abhimanyu Mithun’s courage, things would have been much worse for Karnataka.

Joining hands with Karnataka tottering at 306 for seven, Pandey (177, 312m, 228b, 15x4, 3x6) walked up to a jittery-looking Mithun, calming the paceman’s nerves despite a stiff task ahead.

The ‘talk’ hadn’t worked as well as Pandey would’ve wanted to as Mithun was nearly stumped charging down the track to Vishal Joshi a couple of balls later. Fortunately for Mithun, Saurashtra ’keeper Sagar Jogiyani missed the regulation stumping, and from there on the duo went on a rampage.

Pandey kept most of the strike but eventually was comfortable giving Mithun (31, 84m, 58b, 3x4) the strike. The partnership lasted for nearly 20 overs and helped Karnataka add a crucial 80 runs to get closer to their target of taking the innings lead before Mithun was trapped in front by Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (3/122). 

Resuming at 45 for no loss, Karnataka started the day on a busy note. Robin Uthappa was quick off the blocks as he smacked six delectable boundaries to reach a quick-fire half-century. Uthappa and KL Rahul chugged along, scoring at over four runs an over, before disaster struck as Uthappa was dismissed by Jaydev Unadkat (1/49).

No luck

Unadkat, who found no luck while bowling from the Far end, changed to Pavilion end and hit one of the many spots that had formed on and around the good length area.  The ball kicked up and rushed towards Uthappa even as he tried to guide it down to fine leg, but all he could manage was an edge that was taken by Jogiyani, diving to his left.

Uthappa had done well to add 95 for the opening wicket by then, and Karnataka still had Kunal Kapoor, Ranji Trophy’s highest run-scorer CM Gautam, Pandey, skipper Stuart Binny and Amit Verma in their ranks, and that start seemed to have given a perfect launching pad for the visitors.

It wasn’t to be though. Kunal (2), Gautam (5) and Binny (16) were sent packing, and Verma showed some stomach while scoring a 72-ball 30 but he failed to kick on. The collapse spread numbness in Karnataka’s camp till Pandey gave them a reason to cheer.
The 23-year-old was not without his share of luck as his mistimed hits landed in no-man’s land on a number of occasions, but he did exceedingly well to make the chances that came on his way count. He stepped out when he felt bottled down and stayed at the crease and played patiently when the situation demanded so. But he couldn’t find a partner to take Karnataka all the way, eventually becoming the last man to get dismissed. 

Still, Pandey’s innings has provided Karnataka a ray of hope.

Score board

SAURASHTRA (I Innings): 469 all out
KARNATAKA (I Innings, O/n: 45/0 in 14 overs): K L Rahul c Makwana b Joshi 55 (176m, 111b, 6x4), Robin Uthappa c Jogiyani b Unadkat 60 (100m, 66b, 11x4), Kunal Kapoor c Jogiyani b Makwana 2 (13m, 9b), C M Gautam lbw Makwana 5 (17m, 11b), Manish Pandey c Unadkat b Joshi 177 (312m, 228b, 15x4, 3x6), Stuart Binny lbw Makwana 16 (58m, 27b, 1x6), Amit Verma c Jogiyani b Jadeja 30 (84m, 72b, 4x4, 1x6), K Gowtham c Unadkat b Joshi 6 (28m, 26b, 1x4), Abhimanyu Mithun lbw Jadeja 31 (84m, 58b, 3x4), K P Appanna b Jadeja 4 (7m, 4b, 1x4), H S Sharath (not out) 0 (4m, 3b). Extras (B-8, LB-1, NB-1) 10. Total (all out, 102.2 overs) 396.

Fall of wickets: 1-95 (Uthappa), 2-106 (Kunal), 3-112 (Gautam), 4-154 (Rahul), 5-206 (Binny), 6-286 (Amit), 7-306 (Gowtham), 8-386 (Mithun), 9-396 (Appanna). Bowling: Jaydev Unadkat 19-4-49-1 (nb-1), Chirag Jani 5-1-22-0, Vishal Joshi 27.2-3-103-3, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 28-2-122-3, Kamlesh Makwana 23-1-91-3.

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