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Pitch easing out a little bit: Manish Pandey

After Karnataka maintained their position of control on the second day of the eighth-round Ranji Trophy 2015-16 clash against Delhi on Tuesday (November 24), Manish Pandey, the top-order batsman, reckoned that the green track in Hubli may have eased out and the hosts will tweak their plans based on how it plays out on the third morning.

Robin Uthappa’s theory after the opening day that batting second on a green top could prove to be tricky did not take shape as there seemed to be a certain flatness to the track by the time Gautam Gambhir and Unmukt Chand walked out to bat in the final session.

“I think it has become a little flat right now. Not too much is happening on it as it was on the first day or even today morning. It is easing out little bit. Let’s see how tomorrow and the last day holds up. It (the plan) is obviously to get them out as early as possible. The reason we did not declare today was to try and get them out twice. So, depending on the wicket, our plans will change,” Pandey said after the day’s play.

Pandey, who missed the previous two fixtures due to a finger injury, scored a resourceful 81 on comeback but endured a sticky period in the first session where he had to dig in before unleashing a few boundaries. He put it down the moisture in the wicket and the new ball at Delhi’s disposal for the lack of easy runs early on in the day.

“Obviously early on every morning there will be some moisture in the wicket and the ball was also a new one. So we had a plan to not lose too many wickets in the initial part, to give respect to the bowlers and the ball. I thought we did that pretty well. After that we did well with the bat,” Pandey opined.

En route to his 81, the 26-year-old went past 4,000 runs in Ranji cricket but fell short of a ton as a result of chasing a delivery away from his body off Pradeep Sangwan. Pandey admits it was a loose shot but also takes it in his stride: “I thought 81 was okay. I was working hard on the batting till the time I played the loose shot. It’s okay because we are in a pretty safe position at the moment.”

Over 500 runs on the board and an early Delhi wicket energised the hosts on the field as the cheering – from the dressing room – as well as in the middle grew louder. Vinay Kumar, the Karnataka captain, tested Gambhir’s technique and temperament by employing four slips for him. The cordon were vocal throughout the final session, egging the bowlers and the fielders on, in their quest for another wicket before stumps. Pandey said they did this with the intention of getting the best out of each other on the field and also reckoned that they would continue it on day three.

“We enjoy ourselves as a fielding unit and that was the only plan. When we do that, we bring the best out of ourselves. So that’s the plan and we’ll probably do that tomorrow as well and be loud on the field,” Pandey quipped.

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