Ranji Trophy: Ton-up Padikkal puts Karnataka in command

Padikkal’s unbeaten 161 was the highlight as Karnataka, inserted on a pitch that generally favours seamars, progressed to 293-3 in a Ranji Trophy duel.

FILE PHOTO: Devdutt Padikkal's unbeaten 161 put Karnataka in command over Pondicherry on Day 1 in Chennai.   -  G. Karthikeyan

The beginning is always special; even for an opener adept at turning on the engine’s ignition key.  

Karnataka’s Devdutt Padikkal savoured the moment when he guided Puducherry paceman Sagar Trivedi for a brace behind point; he had progressed from 98 to hundred. The moment marked a start for the lanky 21-year old left-hander vis a vis scoring the Ranji Trophy hundred.

His teammates roared and Padikkal raised his bat in triumph and relief. Soon non-striker K.V. Siddharth gave him a hug. Padikkal’s unbeaten 161 (277b, 20x4, 2x6) was the highlight as Karnataka, inserted on a pitch that generally favours seamars, progressed to 293 for three at the SSN ground on day one of this Ranji Trophy duel on Thursday.

Skipper Manish Pandey was 21 (batting) at stumps.

Siddharth, typically compact and efficient, made 85 (168b, 11x4). The busy left-right pair of Padikkal and Siddharth tormented the Puducherry bowlers, adding 223 in 357 balls for the third wicket; the lack of a genuine off-spinner hurt Puducherry.   

Karnataka lost early wickets; R. Samarth and the in-form Karun Nair fell to away going deliveries from paceman Ashith Rajiv. Padikkal applied himself, cutting out the frills, playing and ‘leaving.’ 

The southpaw defended with assurance and dismissed the loose deliveries ruthlessly. 

The left-hander collected many runs with back-footed punches, marked by balance and a still head. He delighted with his front-footed drives too from a flourishing backlift. A cover-drive, bisecting the field, was a glorious stroke.

So was a sizzling straight drive that had all the ingredients - footwork, timing and balance. 

Padikkal nonchalantly flicked, on-drove and opened the bat’s face for runs on the off-side.  

Siddharth, after 146 against the Railways, and 72 versus the J & K, batted with a blend of technique and flair. The manner he used his feet against the spinners, driving them within the `V,’ reflected his ability. His straight drives screamed for attention.

Siddharth, however,  missed out on a hundred edging left-arm spinner Sagar Udeshi to Paras Dogra at slip. Patience pays. It certainly did for Padikkal who batted the whole day and reached a personal milestone.

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