Punjab's slow pace surprises Rahul Dravid

“We thought we might get to bat 50-60 overs. But I am glad we had a pressure-free final day,” the Karnataka skipper said after his side won through to the Ranji Trophy semifinals by virtue of their 78-run first-innings lead.

Dravid added that while he was delighted with the result, his team could have done better in the quarterfinal clash. “We could have done better in all three departments,” he conceded.

“But it’s a young side and several guys are in a knockout situation for the first time. It’s better we had a less than perfect game here rather than later in the competition, where we will meet better teams.”

All praise for Manish Pandey, whose third hundred of the season powered Karnataka past the Punjab first-innings total, Dravid went on, “He’s a fantastic talent, and his century here was exceptional. All his three hundreds have come under pressure, in tough situations. I’ve told him that if he scores two more centuries, we will win the Ranji Trophy!”

His Punjab counterpart, Pankaj Dharmani, was unconvincing as he tried to explain his team’s lackadaisical second-innings batting. “There was nothing in the pitch and we were further handicapped by a shoulder strain to Manpreet Gony, so we decided to let our young batsmen gain some time in the middle,” the former Indian batsman said.

“Getting to the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy after four years is no mean feat. We are happy with the way the season has unfolded.”

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