Manish Pandey stamped his class by hitting a sparkling century as Karnataka took a firm grip of their Group A Ranji match against Punjab with a 193-run first innings lead with three wickets remaining, here on Sunday.
Pandey stole the show with his 161 as the hosts, who began on overnight score of 59 for two, reached a comfortable 367 for seven at close of the second day's play, in reply to Punjab's first innings total of 174.
Lokesh Rahul was the other batting hero of the day as he hit a crucial 92, besides combining with Pandey to stabilise Karnataka's innings.
With two wickets falling for just 40 runs on board yesterday, Pandey along with in-form Rahul added 149 runs for the third wicket to give Karnataka a chance to register an outright victory.
Pandey cracked 15 fours and three sixes, while spending six-and-a-half hours on the crease, facing 266 balls. He had been getting runs, but was failing to covert those into big scores. So, this innings would have certainly given him loads of confidence.
Rahul played the second fiddle to Pandey with his useful runs and partnership with the centurion, which saw Karnataka race past Punjab's modest first innings total.
Karnataka are sitting pretty at the moment and they would be looking to go for an outright win with at least four to five sessions to fold up Punjab's second innings.
At stumps, captain R Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun were batting on 29 and eight, respectively.
Punjab: 174 all out
Karnataka 367 for seven (Manish Pandey 161, Lokesh Rahul 92; Manpreet Gony 3/70).