Agarwal, Uthappa slam tons

Agarwal, Uthappa slam tons

Duo put Delhi bowlers to the sword as Karnataka rack up 358/3 on day one

Agarwal, Uthappa slam tons
The consistency in their bowling was one of the pivotal reasons behind table-toppers Delhi’s dominance in this season so far. But in their final group game, up against a powerful Karnataka batting unit, the Delhi bowlers faltered in the face of a tough test.

Much to the visitors' dismay, the Karnataka batsmen, led by delightful centuries from Robin Uthappa and Mayank Agarwal, made merry to take day one honours in their Group ‘A’ Ranji Trophy encounter here at the Rajnagar Stadium on Monday.

On a pleasant morning, the in-form Uthappa (148) struck his third successive ton of the season while Agarwal (118) notched up his first Ranji century as the hosts finished at a dominant 358 for three, after being asked to bat first.

The track was tipped to be a seam-friendly one but apart from the first 30 minutes, where the bowlers found good movement and bounce, the surface offered great help to the batsmen. Karnataka would consider the loss of toss as a blessing in disguise and the 236-run second wicket stand between Agarwal and Uthappa has put them in driver’s seat, leaving Delhi with an uphill task on day two.

Picking most of his boundaries with the help of sizzling cover drives to fast bowlers, Agarwal’s stylish innings was marked by excellent footwork and timing. The attacking batsman, who failed to convert his starts into a big one on previous occasions, looked determined throughout his stay in the middle and the right-hander slammed 19 fours in his knock that came off 209 balls.

If Agarwal was ruthless against the pace bowlers, Uthappa flattened the Delhi spinners with great technique and improvisation. The 29-year-old showed first sign of aggression in the first session, when he smashed right-arm medium pacer Navdeep Saini for two back-to-back fours over mid-wicket.

The most entertaining phase of the day arrived when Uthappa clobbered part-time right-arm off spinner Dhruv Shorey for 32 runs in an over. Batting on 97, Uthappa smashed Dhruv’s first ball for a huge six over long on to reach his century and then sent two towering sixes in the same direction. A battered Dhruv pitched the fourth ball short, only to see Uthappa hit a four through a deft late cut. The right-hander then struck a four and a maximum to wrap up the most expensive over of the day.

With his 17th Ranji century, which included six maximums and 16 fours, Uthappa equalled Rahul Dravid’s record and the duo are joint second behind Brijesh Patel (26).

Delhi staged a minor fightback when they removed Agarwal in the first over of the final session and Uthappa a couple of overs later, but an unbroken 61-run fourth wicket stand between Manish Pandey (31 n.o.) and Karun Nair (31 n.o.) took the hosts to a position of strength.

Earlier, Karnataka openers – R Samarth (17) and Agarwal did a fine job to see off the first hour and the 47-run stand between the duo set the platform nicely for the hosts.
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