For young Manish Pandey, it was like yet another Twenty20 match of the Indian Premier League. He didn’t care about the quality bowling attack, spearheaded by Rudra Pratap Singh, and went about scoring his maiden first-class century in style to put Karnataka in a commanding position here on Tuesday.
The 21-year-old took the Uttar Pradesh bowlers to the cleaners and was unbeaten on 194 (238 balls, 27x4, 1x6) at the end of Day One of the Elite Group ‘B’ match at the Bhamashah Cricket Stadium.
Giving Pandey company was B Akhil (17) as Karnataka ended at 372 for five.
Pandey had a let-off on 12 when wicketkeeper Mohd Amir Khan missed a sitter off RP, but after that he did not look back and stroked the ball with consummate ease to all ends of the park.
Earlier, Karnataka were in deep trouble after being put in. They were tottering at 27 for three before Pandey and skipper Rahul Dravid (97) stepped in. Not only did they score at a brisk pace, they helped the side cross 300. The two put on 273 for the fourth wicket.
On their part, the UP fielders were guilty of several lapses. Praveen Gupta dropped opener KB Pawan at third slip off Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and later Ravikant Shukla spilled a simple catch from Dravid, then on 27, in the slips.
Manish and Dravid took their time to settle down, but once set, they were unstoppable. As usual, Dravid played a watchful innings but Pandey went hammer and tongs. He struck two consecutive fours off leggie Piyush Chawla in his first over before lunch and then hit a towering six off Gupta after the interval.
Frustration writ large on his face, skipper Mohd Kaif kept rotating his bowlers, including part-timer Parvinder Singh, but failed to make an impact. The breakthrough finally came when Shukla’s direct throw from the covers caught Dravid short.
Pandey, who was the only Indian to score a century in IPL-II for the Royal Challengers, continued to treat the sparse crowd. He pulled, drove and cut the bowlers and didn’t shy away from playing a few hook shots.
Kaif’s decision to take the new ball in the 82nd over proved fruitful when Bhuvaneshwar bowled Thilak Naidu off the fifth ball of the over.