Ranji Trophy: Samarth, Gowtham slam tons against Assam

R. Samarth and K. Gowtham scored a pair of contrasting tons as Karnataka turned the screws on Assam on the second day of their Ranji Trophy encounter on Sunday.

K. Gowtham scored a brilliant 147 in Karnataka's first-innings total of 427. (File Image)   -  SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

R. Samarth and K. Gowtham scored a pair of contrasting centuries as Karnataka turned the screws on Assam on the second day of their Ranji Trophy Group A encounter at the SDNRW ground here.

Samarth compiled a steady, unhurried 123 (234b, 10x4) before Gowtham launched a carefree assault on the bowling to raise his maiden first-class hundred.

Karnataka had batted watchfully during a rain-affected morning session but accelerated after lunch. Gowtham, promoted to number five, unleashed 10 fours and six clean sixes in his unbeaten 147 (158b); his status as an all-rounder cannot be in doubt now.

At the close of play of Sunday, Karnataka was 427 for six, ahead by 282 runs.

In the morning, openers Samarth and Mayank Agarwal made steady if slow progress as Karnataka resumed on 77 without loss. They were barely troubled until Agarwal was bowled for 30 by an Arup Das delivery that stayed low. 

The Assam medium-pacer struck again four balls later, when he had Abhishek Reddy edge behind. Samarth and Kaunain Abbas then added 98 patient runs (172b) either side of lunch, their concentration unaffected by a 57-minute rain break.

Samarth, who was Karnataka's leading run-scorer in the Ranji Trophy last season, hardly put a foot wrong on his way to a sixth first-class ton. He was compact in defence, on a pitch where the odd ball kept low, and played the dab through third man to great effect.

Abbas and Samarth departed within a few minutes of each other, both edging Swarupam Purkayastha to slip.

But if Assam thought it had clawed its way back, it was grossly mistaken. Gowtham cut loose, attacking the opponent's two main spinners -- Purkayastha and Rahul Singh.

Both finished the day with unflattering economy rates. Gowtham and Stuart Binny put on 103 runs for the sixth wicket at a brisk pace (128b) as the crowd roared its approval.

There was more entertainment in store after tea. Gowtham pulled Abu Nechim Ahmed over square-leg, unfurled a stunning straight drive off pacer Pallav Das that sailed past the sight-screen, and smashed Rahul's left-arm spin into a thicket of trees beyond deep mid-wicket.

The hundred arrived off 112 balls, with a swept four off Rahul. A third century partnership followed, between Gowtham and Shreyas Gopal. Karnataka had galloped along at 4.75 runs an over in the second session, and 4.89 in the third. Assam had no answer.

As he stood outside the dressing room after play on Sunday, K. Gowtham was asked by a local official – in jest – if he had hit the ball into nearby Kukkarahalli lake during his innings. Gowtham laughed but he may very well have claimed that he had tried.

The 28-year-old smashed six sixes – including one that cleared the ground – on his way to a maiden first-class hundred that put Karnataka in control against Assam on the second day of their Ranji Trophy game here. 

“I play spin decently and I have a pretty good reach; so I made the most of it,” he said. “It feels great to get my maiden first-class hundred. The captain (R. Vinay Kumar) believed in my ability and asked me to play my natural game. In the off-season, I really worked on my batting with C.M. Gautam.”

Gowtham may have been dropped from the India-A side on disciplinary grounds, but it is clear he has put all that behind him now. “Did it look like [I had anything on my mind]?” he asked. “I am not worrying or thinking [about other things]. There is a lot of confidence when you've played for India-A. But I take it in the right way and try to focus on the present.”


The scores:
Assam -- 1st innings: 145

Karnataka -- 1st innings: R. Samarth c Tarjinder b Purkayastha 123, K. Gowtham (batting) 147; Extras (lb-5, nb-9): 14; Total (for six wickets in 115 overs): 427.

Fall of wickets: 1-92, 2-92, 3-190, 4-197, 5-215, 6-318.

Assam bowling: Arup Das 35-7-101-3, Swarupam Purkayastha 16-1-80-3.

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