Mayank Agarwal showed great character to play an uncharacteristic waiting game on Thursday. The Karnataka opener, known for his aggressive batting, scored a splendid, maiden double hundred to help his team take control of the Group-A Ranji Trophy match against Maharashtra. And he will return on Friday to continue tormenting the hapless home bowlers.
He was on 219 (373b, 532min, 25x4, 2x6) when the stumps were drawn on the second day at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
His monumental effort has helped Karnataka reach 461 for two and take a lead of 216. It is not just Agarwal that Maharashtra has to be concerned about. There is another guy at the wicket who knows a thing or two about playing massive innings. Karun Nair, who made a triple hundred on Test debut, will return to the crease on the third morning on 56 not out.
READ: Day 1 report
He will be hoping to become the third centurion of the innings. The first was R. Samarth, who batted fluently to make 129 (219b, 298min, 17x4), his second hundred in three matches. He and Agarwal had begun the second day at 117 for no loss, having batted out an entire session on Wednesday. They remained inseparable for another session, as the visiting side went to lunch at 245 for no loss.
LIVE BLOG: Ranji Trophy - Round 4, Day 2
Samarth, who played some delightful strokes even as his opening partner seemed keen to wait for the loose balls, had already got his hundred, with a single on the off-side off the occasional medium-pace of Rahul Tripathi. Samarth, however, went soon after tea. While trying to play part-time off-spinner Swapnil Gugale to the leg-side, he gave a catch to wicketkeeper Rohit Motwani.
Agarwal was now joined by debutant D. Nischal, who didn’t last long. On 16, he gave a simple catch to Ankit Bawane at leg slip, off Chirag Khurana. The off-spinner became one of the two Maharashtra bowlers to make their own ‘hundreds’ on a day they would want to forget in a hurry. Khurana’s figures read one for 104 from 24 overs.
In his last match, against Uttar Pradesh in Lucknow, he had taken 12 for 184. He wasn’t, however, the only man to discover the vagaries of life.
In Karnataka’s last match against Hyderabad, Agarwal had failed to score in either innings. The 26-year-old admitted that was very much on the back of his mind when he came here, a venue he is familiar with, having played for Rising Pune Supergiant in the last IPL. “I was determined to play a good innings here,” he said. “Yes, this has to be one of the best innings of my career. I had decided to play cautiously."
That didn’t stop him from smashing both the sixes of the Karnataka innings. He hit Gugale over long-on and then seamer Samad Fallah over long-off. He got to his double hundred in more subdued fashion though, cutting Khurana for two through point. The innings also helped him cross 2,000 runs in First Class cricket, in his 32nd match.
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