Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pawan, Raghu put Karnataka on top

December 27, 2007, Maharashtra Herald

Suhrid Barua

Ratnagiri: Maharashtra coach Chandrakant Pandit would have wanted his bowlers to make early inroads on day two, if they seriously nourished ambitions of forcing an outright win and give themselves a chance of reaching Ranji Trophy semi-finals.
However, Pawan had his own ideas, as his century took Karnataka very close of gaining the first innings lead on Wednesday. The visitors ended day two at 239 for 5, just 38 runs short of taking the lead. In the morning, two seamers - Samad Fallah and Wahid Sayyed rightly responded to the call.
Bowling an incisive spell, the Fallah-Sayyed combine pitched the ball around the corridor of uncertainty and kept the Karnataka openers -Robin Uthappa and KB Pawan on a tight clamp. Uthappa threatened to regale the goodly crowd who were anticipating fireworks from him.
The Coorg-lad belted three crisp boundaries before he choose bravado over common sense. He played a nothing shot, poking at an innocuous delivery outside off stump with Takawale pulling off a blinder at first slip.
One-drop Devraj Patel also didn’t set the Mandvi beach on fire as he drove without any footwork and offered a regulation catch to Dhruv Mohan in the slips. At 38 for two, Maharastra bowlers must have been smacking their lips at the prospect of running through the Karnataka middle-order and gain handy first innings lead.
But opener Pawan, who was nervous early on - beaten outside off stump on numerous occasions, gradually grew in confidence. He found plenty of comfort in the company of C Raghu as the duo negotiated the State bowlers with oodles of grit and determination. Raghu was fluent of the two and executed some delectable wristy shots.
The free-flowing batting style of Raghu rubbed off on Pawan, who started to open up. They took their side to lunch at 103 for two and were un-separated in the post-lunch session as the State bowlers toiled without reward on a baking day.
The final session threw up exciting moments like day one. Left-arm spinner Ajinkya Joshi finally breached the 166-run third wicket stand between Pawan and Raghu when he enticed the latter to sweep, only to find Mohan at long-leg.
State skipper Venugopal decided to roll his arm over and got rid off Amit Verma for one. At the other end, Pawan didn’t allow the nervous 90s get the better of him as he first square-cut Dole to the point boundary to reach 98 before unleashing a crashing cover drive off the next ball to bring up a well-deserved hundred.
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