Pandey special puts Karnataka in command

20-year-old slams maiden first-class ton as visitors reach 372 for five on day one


Just the previous afternoon, Rahul Dravid had stressed the need for the younger Karnataka batsmen to accept responsibility and think big. Taking his skipper’s words to heart – and with the skipper himself for company – Manish Pandey scripted an epic at the Bhamashah Cricket stadium on Tuesday, hauling Karnataka out of the woods and putting themselves in control on a tricky surface.

Day one of Karnataka’s Ranji Trophy Super League campaign, against Uttar Pradesh, was not all Pandey. Dravid too weighed in with a typically composed, untroubled knock of great substance, but the former Indian captain will be the first to tell everyone that the sole object of attention ought to be his 20-year-old charge.
In authoring his maiden first-class century, Pandey showed that there was more to him than a destroyer of bowling in T20 cricket. In translating that knock to an undefeated 194 (322m, 238, 27x4, 1x6), the right-hander drove home the point that he isn’t easily satisfied, one of the primary reasons for Karnataka ending Tuesday’s skirmishes at a very healthy 372 for five.

The day began disastrously for the visitors, invited to bat first by Mohammad Kaif. The UP skipper’s decision appeared justified as Rudra Pratap Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shallabh Srivastava made the most of helpful conditions, getting the new ball to jag around and capitalising on the dual nature of bounce by winkling out the top three in the first hour with just 27 on the board.

The situation was tailor-made for Dravid to dig his heels in, but who would help him orchestrate the rescue act seemed uncertain until Pandey arrived in a blaze of boundaries, and didn’t let up until the umpires called stumps.

Early trouble
KB Pawan was unfortunate to be ruled leg before by Rajeev Risodkar when the ball appeared headed well down leg, but there were no doubts about the second-ball dismissal of Robin Uthappa or of an unconvincing Amit Verma as Karnataka courted early trouble.

Pandey was reprieved early – on 12 when Amir Khan moved in front of Kaif at first slip – and Dravid (97, 258m, 185b, 14x4) was let off at third slip by Ravikant Shukla on 27, both off RP Singh, but it was no more than any batsman deserved on a track of this nature. Otherwise, neither man put a foot wrong during their 273-run (254m, 377b) fourth-wicket association dominated by the Nainital-born Pandey.
Dravid’s unmistakable class drew loud rounds of applause from a crowd in excess of 5,000, who soon warmed to Pandey as he set about the bowling in uninhibited fashion.

The disdain with which he pulled the faster bowlers was matched for effect by his mastery of leggie Piyush Chawla as he pulled away from Dravid, brought up his hundred and then went into overdrive.
Even as he cut loose, Dravid homed in on another century before being run out – the only mode of dismissal possible by then – after a rare mix-up.
Pandey carried on unflustered, another sign of composure on a day of great delight for Karnataka cricket for more reasons than one.

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