Ranji Trophy: Akshdeep, Ishant hog limelight

A sparkling unbeaten century by the stocky Akshdeep Nath — his second first class century — put Uttar Pradesh in a position of strength after Delhi speedster Ishant Sharma had reduced it to 21 for four in the second innings.

Delhi's Ishant Sharma is greeted by team-mates after he had dismissed U.P.'s Mohammad Saif on the third day of the Ranji Trophy match in New Delhi.   -  ShivKumar Pushpakar

A car being driven on the pitch, even as the umpires were checking for light, provided an unexpected climax to the Delhi-UP Ranji Trophy cricket match at the Palam ground on Friday.

The car was detained at the gate and the Air Force authorities were about to take action on the young man, working in a multi-national company.

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On the ground, it was Uttar Pradesh which gained the upper hand on the penultimate day. It followed up on taking a 22-run first innings lead, by reaching 224 for seven at close in its second essay.

It was thanks to a sparkling unbeaten century by the stocky Akshdeep Nath — his second first class century — that Uttar Pradesh reached a position of strength after speedster Ishant Sharma had reduced it to 21 for four with a three-wicket haul.

With skipper Suresh Raina also being caught behind off Ishant, Uttar Pradesh was looking down the barrel at that stage. It was here that Akshdeep joined Rinku Singh (64) to put on 108 for the fifth wicket. Later, another 85-run partnership with wicket-keeper Upendra Yadav (23) put Uttar Pradesh back in the driver’s seat.

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Akshdeep hit 14 fours and a six in his 175-ball knock, and will resume the innings on the morrow with Imtiaz Ahmed.

Rinku Singh was authoritative in his 80-ball essay as he gathered 64 runs with 10 fours and a six, before tamely steering spinner Pulkit Narang into the hands of substitute Kunal Chandela. Delhi could have done better but for a couple of dropped catches, including one by Unmukt Chand in first slip. But credit to Uttar Pradesh for sticking it out on a tough day.

READ: Day 2 report

Earlier, Uttar Pradesh managed to close the Delhi innings for 269, to gain the valuable first innings lead. Dhruv Shorey remained unbeaten on 98 as he hammered 11 fours and two sixes in his 200-ball knock. It should be an interesting game on the fourth and final day, as the car tyres did not leave any impression on the pitch, according to referee Narayanan Kutty.