Pandey slams big ton as Karnataka take firm grip

Pandey slams big ton as Karnataka take firm grip

Pandey slams big ton as Karnataka take firm grip

Manish Pandey came up with a masterclass to help Karnataka tighten the noose around Punjab on the second day of their Group ‘A’ Ranji Trophy encounter at the Rajnagar KSCA Stadium here on Sunday.

Witnessed by no more than three hundred people, Pandey showcased his prowess as he strung together an entertaining century to propel Karnataka, overnight 59 for two, to 367 for seven from 117 overs.

Karnataka, who took the innings lead in the 64th over by overtaking Punjab’s first innings total of 174, have established a 193-run lead.

The hosts would have gone on to add more runs to that lead had KL Rahul remained at the crease but that was not to be as the right-hander was dismissed eight runs short of his second century this season.

While Pandey’s (161, 397m, 266b, 15x4, 3x6) second century of the season captivated and enthralled the crowd, Rahul’s innings was one of focus and class. The 21-year-old, who had fallen short of a century by two runs in the previous game against Haryana, looked invincible as he neared a century. But just when the landmark seemed within his reach, he was stumped Punjab ’keeper Gitansh Khera under the most peculiar of circumstances on 92.

Premeditating a full ball from Gurkeerat Singh, Rahul set himself up for a sweep. Upon realising that the ball was shorter than presumed, Rahul rocked back and tried to flick the ball. The ball, however, turned sharply before ricocheting off Khera and landing on the stumps.

Rahul wore a baffled look when the square-leg umpire went upstairs for a line decision, and soon the batsman was walking back with disapointment writ large on his face after Col Chinmay Sharma flashed the red light, signalling yet another missed opportunity.

Pandey, on 70 at that point, put aside the fact that he had just shared a 149-run partnership with Rahul and looked to forge a new bond with vice-captain CM Gautam. That hope failed as Gautam was adjudged leg before after scoring a mere two runs.

Joined in by Stuart Binny, Pandey, who was dropped on 59 by Mandeep at first slip off Gurkeerat, upped the ante. Pandey, who had scored a 132 against Odisha a couple of weeks ago, raced to 87 in no time after Binny joined him at the crease but what followed was truly spectacular. The 24-year-old, who had faced an eleven nervy deliveries before reaching his half-century, was in no mood to be bogged down this time as he smacked left-arm spinner Vinay Choudhary just wide off long on for a six to reach 93. Then struck the very next ball for a four in the same area to come within three runs of a ton.

Pandey looked primed to get there but the mode in which he would was still in question. He answered that by putting everything behind a full ball from Gurkeerat and smashing it into the stands to bring up his 12th first-class ton.

Though the off-spinner managed to get rid of Pandey when his delivery kept low and struck the stumps in the 112th over, Punjab, by then, had effectively been batted out of the contest by the right-hander’s wizardry.

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