New Delhi: The Karnail Singh Stadium had a surprise guest as star batsman Rahul Dravid dropped in to watch his state Karnataka play against Railways on the opening day of their second-round Ranji Trophy Elite Group match.
Clad in a green T-shirt and blue denims, Rahul walked in at half-past 10, much to the delight of the Karnataka team.
He enquired about the pitch and said, "I guess it's good toss to win for Karnataka."
The Indian team had a day off on Thursday after winning their first Test against the West Indies at the Feroz Shah Kotla inside four days, and some players have stayed back in the capital.
Dravid watched the proceedings sitting beside Karnataka coach Karthik Jeswanth as Robin Uthappa blazed his way to a fine century. Once Uthappa completed his ton, Dravid gave him a standing ovation along with others. At lunch, he visited the dressing room and had a quick chat with the Karnataka boys before leaving the venue.
Uthappa scored a blazing century but suffered from cramps as Karnataka finished the first day's play at 284-7.
For Railways, old guard Murali Karthik (5/76) again proved his worth as he got his 34th five-for in first-class cricket on a track from which he extracted sharp turn, beating the bat on a number of occasions.
However, the first session belonged to Uthappa, who played in his characteristic attacking manner. There were no half measures as he attacked the spin trio of Karthik, Arlen Konwar and Nilesh Chauhan with equal disdain. He scored his first 50 in 62 deliveries and the next 50 came off 46 balls. His innings of 117 contained 10 boundaries and five sixes.
Such was his dominance that in pre-lunch session Karnataka scored 140-3, and Uthappa was batting on 100.
But as he started suffering from cramps, he did not come out to bat after lunch and suddenly Railways were back in the game. The post-lunch session saw quick dismissals of CM Gautham (7) and Amit Verma (8) as Karnataka slumped to 165-5.
Then Stuart Binny (68, 138 balls, 9x4) and skipper R Vinay Kumar (43 not out, 3x4) added 94 runs to stabilise the proceedings.
Uthappa came in at the fall of sixth wicket but wasn't exactly his free-flowing self and finally edged one off JP Yadav to Karthik in the slips.
Brief Scores: Karnataka 284-7 in 99 overs (Robin Uthappa 117, Stuart Binny 68, R Vinay Kumar 43 not out, Murali Karthik 5/76).