Ranji Trophy: Samarth makes a statement with skilful century

Karnataka, which elected to bat, finished the opening day at 248 for three against Jharkhand with Samarth (118) and debutant Kaunain Abbas (28) at the crease.

Samarth

R. Samarth did nothing wrong during his superb unbeaten show of 118 off 276 balls with 10 fours.

Few watched R. Samarth construct an innings that should help him grow as the season progresses. The Karnataka opener produced a composed century that highlighted his grooming as a batsman was worth investing in as he came up with his fifth first-class hundred at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex here on Thursday.

>Scorecard

His century, scripted during the 155-run third-wicket partnership with the reliable Karun Nair, saw Karnataka, which elected to bat, finish the opening day at 248 for three against Jharkhand with Samarth (118) and debutant Kaunain Abbas (28) at the crease.

A predictable pitch and a slow outfield created a competitive flair that Samarth and Nair enjoyed thoroughly even though only a handful of spectators witnessed a contest of possible future stars. Samarth has the potential to emerge one and Nair is on the threshold of creating his own space in the big league.

Mayank Agarwal drove the ball to mid-off and Robin Uthappa nicked one behind the stumps to leave Karnataka wondering if the choice to bat first was wise. Seamer Ashish Kumar dealt the two blows. He was to claim the third wicket too but Samarth and Nair brought some old world charm to the proceedings with their disciplined batting.

Delightful footwork was an essential ingredient of Nair and Samarth’s approach in dealing with the bowlers where the spinners – left-arm Shahbaz Nadeem and leg-spinner Samar Quadri – did not quite adapt to the challenge. There was negligible turn for the slow bowlers and the batsmen were quick to pick the line and dish out the treatment it deserved.

Samarth, with a defence that matches his aggression, and Nair, adept at treating the ball on merit, enjoyed their outing in the middle as Jharkhand bowlers struggled to make an impact. Runs came in all directions as Nair and Samarth played some delectable strokes – drive being the penchant. Nair especially revelled in shots on either side of the wicket and Samarth did not lag, taking his time to take the measure of the attack. Once he had his eye in, Samarth did not edge a ball.

Nair middled the ball well with some excellent timing signifying his innings. At the end of 165 balls, having hit five fours, Nair played the wrong line to give the hard-working Ashish his third wicket of the day. The dismissal brought Abbas, a Jain University student from Bangalore, to the crease. The lanky Abbas lost little time in settling into his role. He defended well and was happy to play the second fiddle to Samarth, who did nothing wrong during his superb unbeaten show of 118 off 276 balls with 10 fours.

A feature of Karnataka’s batting was the temperament that Samarth brought to his game. A batsman cast in the mould of a run accumulator, he displayed his hunger for runs with a renewed resolve to carry on the good work on the second day. “I am extremely happy with my effort. The pitch was slightly on the slower side and Karun and I had to build a good partnership. We decided to take each session at a time. At the end of the day it feels nice to have scored a century for my team. I am keen to continue performing well,” said Samarth.