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Agarwal, Pandey dazzle

Published On : 26 Nov 2017   |  Reported By : Courtesy: DHNS   |  Pic On: Photo credit- DHNS

New Delhi, (DHNS): In tricky batting conditions, Mayank Agarwal and Manish Pandey revealed their gargantuan appetite for runs. The two have batted with purpose this season. On Saturday, they showcased striking strokeplay and endurance to place Karnataka in a strong position on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy Group A contest against Railways at the Karnail Singh Stadium here.

The two raised splendid centuries -- Agarwal his fourth in a row and Pandey his second of the season -- during their 229-run third-wicket partnership and rescued Karnataka from a precarious 19 for 3 to a position of strength at the end of the day. If Pandey scored a stylish 108, Mayank batted all three sessions for his 173, before nicking debutant left-arm spinner Vinit Dhulap's delivery which was going down the leg side. His dismissal, in fast fading light, drew curtains on the day's play with Karnataka posting an impressive 355/6 in 89.2 overs. CM Gautam was the unbeaten batsman on 25.

The eight-time champions, after winning the toss, struggled in the first 10 overs. Railways' seamers Karan Thakur and Manish Rao made excellent use of the new ball in cold and moist conditions. All top three Karnataka batsmen fell to the moving ball. In-form opener R Samarth's expansive shot off Thakur flew to slips before Rao knocked the off-stumps of D Nischal and Karun Nair in quick succession. The early wickets energised the Railways, but the pair of Agarwal and Pandey doused their enthusiasm.

The two successfully combated the low bounce of the surface and even the odd rising balls, and kept rotating the strike. Both curtailed their attacking instincts at the start, but once they settled down under the bright sun, there was no stopping them. Railways' wicket-keeper-captain Mahesh Rawat kept an attacking field, with a silly point or short leg in attendance but both Agarwal and Pandey had locked themselves in a zone. Railways' two left-arm spinners, Dhulap and Ambikeshwar Mishra, also making his debut, could not make much impact against them. The two played superb strokes on both sides of the wicket and Karnataka took lunch at 154/3.

On resumption, Agarwal raced to his century, which came off 130 balls, with a boundary through the covers and Pandey joined him shortly after. Pandey, however, was trapped leg before by off-spinner Vidhyadhar Kamath at the stroke of tea, leaving a steadily growing crowd disappointed.
Agarwal, though, kept them entertained with his free-flowing shots. He was joined by Stuart Binny, who piqued the interest but couldn't stay long. Young Mishra got his moment under the sun when he drew out Binny and Rawat swiftly whipped off the bails.

Railways opted for the second new ball in the 86th over and while their seamers could not reproduce the magic of the first session, Dhulap snared the prized wicket of Agarwal to bring some cheer in the Railways camp.

"The first session was hard. Their bowlers bowled in good areas. I have been working hard. I had done skill based training pre-season, simulating the match situations, which helped," said Agarwal.

"Manish and I worked on building a partnership. Once we got 20-30 runs, we looked to dominate the bowlers."

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