Play late, play long. That was the motto for Priyank Panchal as he enriched his status with a century in both the innings in the Duleep Trophy cricket tournament.
Well known to hit the big centuries as he showed last season, with an unbeaten 314 as the highest, Panchal remained unbeaten on 133 in India Red’s vibrant second innings, as he was joined by captain Dinesh Karthik with a century, on the third day of play at the Ekana International Stadium on Saturday.
Incidentally, Karthik has twice scored a century in both the innings, the only batsman to do so, in Duleep trophy. The 27-year-old Panchal became the 11th batsman to accomplish the record, after KL Rahul had become the last batsman to reach the land mark in the previous inter-zonal format.
Chasing 474 for victory, India Green which had collapsed for 157 in its first innings, was 98 for two, requiring 376 on the final day. Krishnappa Gowtham who had taken five wickets with his off-spinners and wrecked the India Green first innings with left-spinner Karn Sharma on the second day, had categorically stated that there was ‘’no devil in the pitch’’. There was no reason to doubt his observation, as India Red demonstrated once again, the art of scoring fast, on a slow pitch.
In bright conditions, the pitch looked to be improving as Panchal and company made batting look easy with a watchful but fluent style. On a strip, which did not have adequate time for preparation for the match as was observed by chief curator Daljit Singh, Panchal and Rahul Singh Gahlaut (54) put on 114 for the second wicket. That partnership took the match away from Green, which had already conceded a 166-run first innings lead.
Thereafter, Dinesh Karthik gave company for Panchal in an unbeaten 181-run partnership, as he declared the innings closed after helping himself to his 26th first class century.
It was some statement of sound temperament by India Red, after Green had managed to gather only 157 in its first innings. Back to the grind, after he had failed to capitalise on the last first class outing against Australia for India-A earlier this year, the determination of Panchal was evident as he stayed calm through the innings, in which he struck 18 fours off 213 balls. Karthik was understandably a lot more robust as he hammered nine 4s and two 6s in his 124-ball essay.
For the spectators who grew in numbers as compared to the last two days, there was indeed a lot of entertainment, even though India Green went back into the shell later in the day, as the floodlights washed the arena.
India Red (1st innings): 323.
India Green (1st innings): 157.
India Red (2nd innings): Priyank Panchal 133 (not out); Sudip Chatterjee lbw b Murali Vijay 7; Rahul Singh Gahlaut st. Parthiv Patel b Murali Vijay 54; Dinesh Karthik (not out) 100; Extras (lb-13) 13; Total (for two wickets decl. in 75 overs) 307.
Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-126.
India Green bowling: Md. Siraj 5-0-31-0; Shahbaz Nadeem 29-8-87-0; Murali Vijay 13-2-41-2; Ravikumar Samarth 4-0-10-0; Navdeep Amarjeet Saini 4-0-22-0; Karun Nair 11-0-42-0; Mayank Dagar 9-0-61-0.
India Green (2nd innings): Ravikumar Samarth (batting) 46; Murali Vijay c Siddharth Kaul b Karn Sharma 13; Prashant Chopra c Rahul Singh Gahlaut b Karn Sharma 0; Karun Nair (batting) 36; Extras (lb-1, nb-2) 3; Total (for two wickets in 30 overs) 98.
Fall of wickets: 1-37, 2-37.
India Red bowling: Karn Sharma 14-6-34-2; Ashoke Dinda 3-0-26-0; Krishnappa Gowtham 11-2-24-0; Rahul Singh Gahlaut 2-0-13-0.