Mayank's maiden double powers Karnataka

Mayank's maiden double powers Karnataka

Mayank Agarwal slammed a bloody-minded double century while R Samarth hit a free-flowing ton as Karnataka heaped more pain on Maharashtra in their Group A Ranji Trophy encounter here on Thursday.

Known for his all-out aggressive batting, Agarwal curbed his attacking instincts for most part in composing an uncharacteristically grinding 219 not out (373b, 25x4, 2x6) while his opening partner Samarth, young and oozing confidence, hammered an easy on the eye 129 (219b, 17x4) as Karnataka took stumps at the MCA Stadium at a commanding 461/2 in 125 overs - a lead of 216 runs.

Agarwal and Samarth took off from where they had left off the previous evening, happy leaving the good balls alone but slamming boundaries whenever an opportunity presented to help Karnataka make a strong start. The hosts, in a bid to prise out the openers, kept pitching the ball up but with no swing on offer, they just made life easy for Samarth and Agarwal - both naturally good drivers who went about their job without a fuss.

After seeing off the opening hour, Samarth first chose to up the ante. The talented and stylish 24-year-old, who slammed a ton in the opening game against Assam, hit some gorgeous shots but without taking any risks. All his shots were along the ground and none coming in anger. Strong square off the wicket, Samarth then aptly brought up his seventh first-class century with a square-driven single.

Agarwal, under pressure following a pair in the previous match, retreated into a shell after the opening hour even as Samarth made batting look ridiculously easy. The 26-year-old, looking determined to get an elusive big knock and make a statement, chose to play the big shots only when the ball was there to be hit. Otherwise, he was happy leaving them alone, knowing this was a great chance to showcase his renewed hunger and desire.

With the wicket not offering much help, Maharashtra resorted to bowling a leg-side line that helped them skittle out Samarth and debutant Nischal in the post-lunch session. Despite the two dismissals, Agarwal appeared unaffected and went about his task like a monk. His modus operandi remained the same - banish the bad balls but defend for most part.

Eventually Mahara, htra got bogged down and even went to the extent of not taking the new ball until the mandatory 101st over. Leg-spinner Chirag Khurana, who dismissed Nischal, and offie Swapnil Gugale, who scalped Samarth, tried hard but with Agarwal and Karun Nair showing no inclination to increase the tempo, the middle session turned out be largely attritional.

Once Agarwal brought up his maiden double century - his third first-class century - runs started to come at a faster clip. Nair, cautious at the start, also showed urgency as a tired Maharastra just gave up. Agarwal unleashed the bruising shots he's known for while Nair gently killed off a battered Maharastra attack. The duo remained unseparated and Karnataka can now genuinely hope of rubbing further salt into the hosts' wounds on Friday.

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