By the time South Zone captain VVS Laxman trundled off the field,after edging a Umesh Yadav delivery to wicketkeeper Naman Ojha,his teams famed batting line-up had all but folded up at 86/6.
Dinesh Karthik was unbeaten on two at the other end. William Shakespeare famously insisted that the better part of valour was discretion. But Karthik seemed in no mood for literature lessons on Thursday,as he proceeded to decimate the Central Zone bowling with a hurricane knock of 153,which included a remarkable 24 fours and four sixes,and drag his team total to a respectable 329 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.
Lunch must have tasted just perfect for Mohammad Kaif and his boys,who required just four wickets to settle the issue. But Karthik feasted on the Central bowling instead,smashing 137 runs off 91 balls he faced in the second session. South Zone ended up scoring 188 runs for the loss of two wickets,after finding themselves 106/6 at lunch.
Team-mate R Ashwin and Andhra leg-spinner Marripuri Suresh played stellar supporting roles to Karthiks fast-paced solo. First,in a comparatively sedate partnership,he added 58 runs with Ashwin,before launching into assault-mode,as he combined with Suresh for a 146-run stand,which came off 100 balls. Suresh remained unbeaten on a solid 58 as the last wicket fell,which was also his fifth first-class half-century.
There was nothing premeditated about my innings. I came out looking to play my normal game,but wickets started falling all around me,and I had to look for quick runs, said Karthik,after scoring his fourth first-class century of the season.
The story of the morning,though,was Vidarbha seamer Umesh Yadav,who combined excellently with pace partners Pankaj Singh and Bhuvneshwar Kumar,and used the bounce on the wicket to perfection. Openers Robin Uthappa and Abhinav Mukund struggled against the new ball,and both fell to Pankaj Singh,caught behind. Dravid was caught bat-pad by Parvinder Singh at backward short-leg,before Yadav accounted for Laxman,who managed to find an edge to a wide delivery. The pitch was two-paced,but once the ball lost its shine,it was easy, Karthik said.
The spinning combination of Murali Kartik and Piyush Chawla found little joy and came in for some heavy firing,as Karthik leapt out of his crease to hit them over the top and through mid-wicket. Chawla suffered the most,as he was hit for three sixes off consecutive balls in his fourth over.
The only chance that Karthik gave the Central bowlers was when,on 39,he glided a Bhuvneshwar Kumar delivery towards the slip-cordon,and Kartik,who had grasped two smart catches earlier in the day,grassed a difficult chance low to his right.
Indias last tour to Sri Lanka in August last year proved to be one of the low points of Karthiks career,when he looked at sea against Mendis & Co. Forgettable is the right word for that tour. I have moved on, he said.
And,on the basis of this knock,it definitely seems like the spunky 23-year-old wants to white-ink those memories in a hurry.