Ranji Trophy: Manish, Shreyas steady Karnataka after Harpreet ton keeps visitor in hunt

Harpreet Singh’s valiant century helped Chhattisgarh avoid the follow-on before Pankaj Rao’s incisive spell put Karnataka in a spot of bother.

Karnataka was rocked by a blistering opening spell from Pankaj, who rattled the stumps of D. Nischal, Liyan Khan and K.V. Siddharth in quick succession.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Chhattisgarh did well to stall a Karnataka offensive on the third day of their Ranji Trophy encounter, but the host managed to make significant inroads.

Harpreet Singh’s valiant century helped Chhattisgarh avoid the follow-on before Pankaj Rao’s incisive spell put Karnataka in a spot of bother.

A brisk unbroken 63-run fifth-wicket partnership between Manish Pandey (57 batting, 60b, 7x1, 1x6) and Shreyas Gopal (21 batting, 43b, 1x4), however, gave Karnataka a healthy overall lead of 248 runs.

Harpreet, on 53 overnight, held firm to record his ninth first-class hundred. Skipper Harpreet, who was part of the Indian team for the 2010 ICC Under-19 World Cup, batted six hours for his 239-ball 120. The compact southpaw was taken out by a moment of brilliance from K. Gowtham, who flew to his left and snatched a blinder at square-leg.

As it happened: Ranji Trophy 2018-19 UPDATES: Round 8, Day 3

More impresses with ball

Karnataka pacer Ronit More finished with five for 48 – his third five-for of the tournament. More settled into a fluent rhythm and generated good pace on a pitch which offered little help.

More is now tied with J. Suchith as Karnataka’s highest wicket-taker of the Ranji season (23 wickets). Fellow fast bowler A. Mithun (four for 64) had a good day at the office as well. Chhattisgarh was dismissed for 283, and conceded a 135-run lead.

Karnataka was rocked by a blistering opening spell from Pankaj, who rattled the stumps of D. Nischal, Liyan Khan and K.V. Siddharth in quick succession. Working with the breeze, Pankaj got the ball to move in from a full length.

All three batsmen were bowled through bat and pad,attempting drives. When opener Devdutt Padikkal was sent back by spinner Ajay Mandal, Karnataka was left at a precarious 50 for four. Pandey and Shreyas ensured that Chhattisgarh made no further inroads.

Always fired up

Pankaj, who has taken 10 wickets for the match, was thrilled to perform on the big stage. “It is a dream to get 10 wickets against a strong team like Karnataka. I was very keen to do well in this match because it will catch the attention of the national selectors,” the 29-year-old said.

Pankaj made his List A debut way back in 2009, for Madhya Pradesh. He then found it tough to keep his place in the Madhya Pradesh team and moved to Chhattisgarh when the State got the first-class status in 2016.

The long wait to rejoin the domestic cricket circles only increased the hunger in Pankaj to make his mark. “I’ve been among the top wicket-takers, across formats, in the last three years. I’m always fired up when I take the field,” Pankaj said.

At Bengaluru: Karnataka 418 & 113 for four in 34 overs (Manish Pandey 57 batting) vs Chhattisgarh 283 in 89 overs (Amandeep Khare 45, Harpreet Singh Bhatia 120, Ajay Mandal 41, Abhimanyu Mithun four for 64, Ronit More five for 48).