As is the case frequently with a young cricketer's interaction with the press in domestic cricket, while H.R. Sharath was replying to queries as confidently as his strokeplay, his Karnataka senior Karun Nair joined the flock and started listening to the conversation. Sharath suddenly became conscious, took a pause and politely asked Nair to keep away before resuming the dialogue.

That was possibly his only stutter of the day at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium on Wednesday as the young wicketkeeper became only the ninth Karnataka batsman to score a hundred on first-class debut. More importantly, his hundred, combined with a 160-run partnership with D. Nischal, gave Karnataka the vital lead against defending champion Vidarbha in its Ranji Trophy opener.

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When Sharath came in for C.M. Gautam mid-way through a disappointing Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign, he was touted as a possible replacement for the seasoned 'keeper-batsman. And the manner in which he absorbed pressure and played freely gave a hint that he has the wherewithall to establish himself in the longer format. Coming in to bat, with the team in trouble, and yet playing freely and dominating the opposition was indeed heartening to see from a youngster.

“I was in good form. I was seeing the ball really well. I just wanted to time the ball well. I just came from scoring a hundred in U-23, so I just wanted to continue in the same manner,” said an eloquent Sharath.

“For any batsman, who walk to bat in the middle, there will be pressure. But it is how you take it. If you feel pressure, then you will be nervous and legs will not move properly. But, I just wanted to keep calm and do whatever I have done well.”

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Such was the impact of his innings that he earned two vital pats on the back for his knock – one by his captain R. Vinay Kumar before the latter replaced him at the crease and the other by veteran Wasim Jaffer who complemented him for his knock after the end of day's play. If Sharath continues in the same vein, the compliments and the number of runs will both move upward in tandem as the season progresses.