Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Back with a ton, Samarth means business

R. Samarth scored a hundred in seamer-friendly conditions against Madhya Pradesh, celebrating the landmark with an exuberant leap and a finger to the lips.

R. Samarth after reaching his century against Madhya Pradesh in Shivamogga on Tuesday.   -  Sampath Kumar GP

Karnataka’s long wait for a centurion this Ranji Trophy season ended at the KSCA Navule Stadium on Tuesday. R. Samarth scored a gritty hundred in seamer-friendly conditions against Madhya Pradesh, celebrating the landmark with an exuberant leap and a finger to the lips.

“I would rate this innings very highly,” he said later. “The wicket was doing a lot and I had to grind my teeth off. In the first two sessions, the ball moved quite a bit off the pitch. On such wickets, it’s important to keep your mind fresh and be present in that moment. It’s important to not focus on the previous ball.”

This Ranji Trophy season has been a test of Samarth’s character. His place in the side was not certain at the start of the campaign, and after scores of 11, 4, and 0 in his first three innings, he was dropped for Karnataka’s clash against Mumbai. But the BCCI’s decision to have Mayank Agarwal rested earned Samarth a recall. And the opener responded with a fine first-innings 86 that paved the way for Karnataka's victory. The following week, Samarth made scores of 63 and 74 in Rajkot. A corner had been turned.

READ: Samarth, Siddharth shine against Madhya Pradesh

“Nothing changed,” he said. “I didn’t do anything different. I’m in that zone. I have maintained that I have been batting well. It was just a matter of that one innings. I think it just came and hopefully it continues.”

Batting was hard work in the first two sessions, with Samarth managing only 52 runs by tea. “I didn’t think about playing for runs at all,” he said. “I wanted to play sessions. I thought that eventually, in the third session, when the bowlers got tired I would get my runs. When the wicket is doing a bit, my game is not to counterattack but to grind it out.”

Samarth had passed 60 in three of his previous five innings but failed to convert them into a hundred. He wasn’t about to miss out on Tuesday. “In the previous games I had got starts — getting 50s-60s and getting out. We had spoken before this game that whoever gets in should get a big one. I just got a big one today.”

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