Siddharth, Nischal power Karnataka

Siddharth, Nischal power Karnataka

K V Siddharth of Karnataka exults after reaching his century against Chhattisgarh at the Alur ground in Bengaluru on Sunday. DH photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

The young duo of K V Siddharth and D Nischal, once buddies at school, continued their impressive run at a higher level as Karnataka dominated the opening day’s play of their Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ game against Chhattisgarh here on Sunday.  

Siddharth slammed a fine century (105, 189b, 11x4, 2x6) while Nischal remained firm to reach 107 not out (241b, 7x4) as Karnataka posted 273/4 at stumps at the Alur 1 ground. Shreyas Gopal (8) was giving Nischal company at the close.  

Going into the second day, Karnataka would have loved to see their skipper Manish Pandey (40) go on to script a big knock. But the stylish batsman went for an expansive drive and was caught at cover brilliantly by Ajay Mandal, just 3.3 overs before the close of play.   

Chhattisgarh, electing to bowl, made a promising start. Opener Devdutt Padikkal didn’t trouble the scorers, edging to Chhattisgarh skipper Harpreet Singh Bhatia off Pankaj Rao in the third over. Debutant Liyan Khan, getting a chance in place of the injured R Samarth, was then trapped in front by Pankaj after a decent stay in which he scored two boundaries.

The Chhattisgarh pacers maintained a decent line but the attack was far from lethal. Karnataka just required one big partnership to take control of the proceedings and the Siddharth-Nischal combination provided just that with a 163-run stand. But it was hard work early on for the two right-handers, as they adopted an extra-cautious approach and scored at a painfully slow rate.

Karnataka broke for lunch at 65/2 in 37 overs, having scored a little over one run per over. But the second session turned out to be an eventful one thanks to Siddharth. The 26-year-old, who took his time for his 32 runs, batted with more confidence and pounced on every scoring opportunity. Despite his urgency, Siddharth refrained from playing loose shots.

Dramatic action unfolded as Siddharth entered the 90s. Six runs away from his second first-class hundred, Siddharth was caught plumb in front after he missed an inswinger from Pankaj. Livid with himself, he threw the bat in the air and began the long walk back. The on-field umpires then decided to check for the front foot no-ball. Fortune favoured Siddharth as Pankaj had overstepped.

Siddharth soon reached his ton and imitated teen football sensation Kylian Mbappe’s crossed-arm goal celebration. “When I was adjudged leg before wicket, I prayed my heart out that it should be a no ball. I was glad I survived. I am a Liverpool fan but I like Mbappe. So I celebrated that way,” said Siddharth.

Nischal’s innings was marked by tremendous patience. In his 376-minute stay, Nischal was like a rock, holding one end up. The right-hander largely built his innings on singles and doubles and never attempted risky shots. While he scored just two fours in his first 50, Nischal struck another four hits to the fence for his next.

“Nischal and I studied in the same school (Vidya Vardhaka Sangha) and we have batted together a lot of times in age group cricket. So we have a good understanding,” said Siddharth.