Ranji Trophy: Pandey 75 rescues Karnataka

Even as Saurashtra chipped away at former champion Karnataka, Manish Pandey played a resilient knock to steer his team to 200. Saurashtra, then, was off to a jittery start as Vinay Kumar struck twice to leave it at 19/2.

manish pandey

Manish Pandey scored a resilient 75 on his comeback.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Manish Pandey made an impactful return even as the rest of Karnataka batting faltered against Saurashtra in its penultimate Group B match here on Tuesday. The former champion folded for 200 in its first innings but made up for it with two quick strikes towards the end of the day.

At stumps, Saurashtra was 19 for the loss of two wickets, both claimed by R. Vinay Kumar, with Snell Patel (10) and Sheldon Jackson (9) at crease.

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With Karnataka electing to bat, Pandey top-scored with 75. He was the fulcrum of the side's batting. Coming in at four, Pandey ensured the flow of runs but barring a 54-run partnership with Shreyas Gopal (38) for the eight wicket, he found little support. But that didn't stop him from playing the big shots.

A six and a four off Makwana just before lunch signalled his intent. Bringing up his 50 with a stylish cover drive, his foot in line with the bat, for four showed his class. Pandey's six of seven fours and two sixes – both over long-on – all came on the on-side.

The big-hitting Pandey controlled his attacking instincts, waiting for the loose ball to score on a pitch that assisted turn from the start. Spinners came into play within the first hour, making way for Jaydev Unadkat only after tea.

"I haven't played on such wickets in a long time, so it was challenging and the two days of practice helped me a lot. My plan was to hold on to a good partnership but it was a little disappointing not to get those. Two hundred looks a decent score but I would have preferred somewhere around 250," Pandey, playing his second game this season, said.

Pandey's was the penultimate wicket to fall, caught at second slip, trying to play a ball far outside off stump from Unadkat who was reintroduced after tea, and was followed by Vinay Kumar as Karnataka lost three wickets for just five runs in the final session.

With the light fading, Saurashtra hoped to get some quick runs on board but youngster Kishan Parmar had a forgettable debut, edging the first ball of the innings from Vinay Kumar to Kaunain Abbas at second slip. Samarth Vyas also failed to open his account, the ball taking the outside edge once again to Robin Uthappa at second slip.

With the fog delaying the start on opening day and likely to shorten the remaining days and a pitch that would only deteriorate further, Snell and Sheldon have their task cut out.

"If we even manage a lead of 30-40 runs on this wicket, it would be important in nullifying the prospect of batting fourth," Unadkat admitted.