Confident Mayank leads Karnataka's charge

Confident Mayank leads Karnataka's charge

Right-hander slams unbeaten 169 as hosts amass 348/4 in day one

Confident Mayank leads Karnataka's charge

One big knock can elevate the confidence of a player struggling for form.

Mayank Agarwal was searching for answers following failures in the first two outings of the season. The opener, however, repaid the management's trust by slamming a triple century (304 n.o.) against Maharashtra.

On Thursday here at the Alur (2) ground, the Karnataka batsman carried the confidence he gained from his mammoth knock, scripting a measured unbeaten 169 (344m, 235b, 23x4, 3x6) against Delhi in a Group 'A' encounter. Agarwal constructed his innings around R Samarth (58, 160m, 107b, 8x4) and Manish Pandey (74, 137m, 107b, 9x4, 2x6) – the two batsmen essaying contrasting half-centuries --   as the hosts finished the first day on a strong 348 for four.

Right from the moment he walked into the middle following K L Rahul's (9) short stint at the crease, Agarwal appeared focused and determined. The right-handed batsman added another layer to his new-found ability to give himself time to settle in, completely opposite of his naturally aggressive style, to notch up his fourth first-class ton. Incidentally, Agarwal's first Ranji Trophy ton also came against Delhi, when he smashed 118 in Hubballi in 2015.

Pandey's case was a lot similar to Agarwal. A big knock eluded the stylish batsman as he returned from international cricket to play his first Ranji game of the season. However, unlike Agarwal, Pandey didn't do anything different with his game. His arrival to the crease couldn't have come at a better time for Karnataka. Delhi had regained slight control in the game when they broke the 112-run stand between Samarth and Agarwal and then removed the dangerous Karun Nair (15) shortly.

At 181/3, Karnataka's innings was still a work in progress even as Delhi eyed more breakthroughs. The visitors were however denied a hold on the proceedings as Pandey pushed Delhi to the wall with his trademark fearless approach. The 28-year-old could have been the second centurion of the day but a slight lapse in concentration saw him edge one to wicketkeeper off Navdeep Saini during the fag end of the final session.

The best phase of the day was the 136-run stand between Agarwal and Pandey. Agarwal, showing good footwork, found majority of his boundaries through the cover region. Barring one tough chance, when left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra put down a tough return catch, Delhi was left frustrated by Agarwal's approach that was aggressive without being reckless. The 26-year-old looked at ease against spinners. After he brought up his first six of the match off Mishra post lunch, Agarwal smashed him for two more sixes off back to back deliveries – over long on and long off. Pandey enthralled the 200-odd fans with his daring executions which included two sixes. He was off the mark with a cut off Manan Sharma and made the most of the scoring opportunities.

Earlier, after captain R Vinay Kumar opted to bat, opener Rahul was a touch early on a short ball off left-arm seamer Kulwant Khejroliya and handed a catch to short square leg. The Delhi pacers received good bounce early on but Samarth tackled it nicely. The elegant batsman pulled the pacers well and sliced the spinners through the backward point regions for his boundaries.

DH News Service