A captain’s knock from Mayank Agarwal (110 batting, 246b, 11x4, 1x6) carried Karnataka to 229 for five at stumps on the opening day of its Ranji Trophy semifinal against Saurashtra at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday.
On a wicket that sported a generous sprinkling of grass, and under conditions where the ball swung and seamed all day, Mayank, who lost the toss, stood tall, thwarting the visiting pacers to script his 15th First Class century. By evening he had also succeeded in relegating to the back of the mind some of his teammates’ rank mediocrity.
From a dire 112 for five, Mayank and wicketkeeper Sharath Srinivas (58, 143b, 4x4) combined for a 117-run partnership for the sixth wicket (279 balls). It wasn’t as if their innings were chanceless. Mayank was dropped on 13 by Snell Patel at second slip off Prerak Mankad and Sharath could have been run out on 22 if ‘keeper Harvik Desai had collected a throw from the deep properly.
But they capitalised on the reprieves and rebooted their respective innings in a workmanlike fashion. Mayank routinely stepped out to the pacers to smother the swing, especially in the morning session.
A clipped four to the backward square-leg boundary and two drives down the ground were his standout shots early on.
When spin was introduced, as late as the 44th over, Mayank was totally at ease, as one saw from the splendid straight six he hit off left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja to move into the eighties.
A glorious on-drive took him into the nineties and it wasn’t long before he brought up his third century of the Ranji Trophy campaign with back-to-back fours off left-arm tweaker Parth Bhut – a square drive and a late cut.
But not an iota of the 31-year-old’s discipline and patience was imbibed by his fellow top-order batters.
Even as Devdutt Padikkal and Nikin Jose fellow to fine deliveries that shaped away, from Chetan Sakariya and Kushang Patel respectively, R. Samarth slashed at a wide delivery to be caught in the slips and Manish Pandey tried to heave one recklessly and holed out at mid-wicket.
Shreyas Gopal was lethargic in responding to a call for a quick single in the cover-point area and was run out by a direct hit from substitute Samarth Vyas. But a wicket-less final session that fetched 89 runs brought Karnataka firmly back.