Ranji Trophy: Gambhir shows the way as Delhi wins by seven wickets

Needing 217 to win on the final day, seasoned pro Gautam Gambhir and Kunal Chandela struck half centuries to see Delhi through into the last four.

A file photo of Gautam Gambhir. The southpaw top scored with 95 as Delhi beat MP to enter the semifinals.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Delhi’s eight-year wait for a place in the Ranji Trophy semifinal ended following an authoritative run chase for a seven-wicket victory over Madhya Pradesh here.

Scorecard

 

The purposeful presence of Gautam Gambhir in the middle ensured Delhi was never threatened in its pursuit of 217. Though Gambhir was distinctly unlucky to miss a well deserved hundred, his two near-century stands with opener Kunal Chandela and Dhruv Shorey brought Delhi to the doorsteps of victory. Nitish Rana hoisted a six to signal Delhi’s triumph, just 43 minutes into the second session.

Delhi, which conceded the first innings to Mumbai when it last figured in the semifinals in January 2010, now plays Bengal in Pune from December 17.

Ranji Trophy quarterfinals, Day 5: As it happened

On Monday, the Delhi batsmen scored 209 runs in just 193 minutes, hitting four sixes and 21 boundaries spread across 48.4 overs.

Gambhir used the opportunity well with some fluent stroke-play on both sides of the pitch. He smashed a six and nine boundaries but fell when
in sight of a third century this season.

Match Report: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

A powerful drive from Shorey shattered the stumps at the non-striker’s end after the ball touched the outstretched hand of bowler Mihir Hirwani. At this point, Gambhir was out of the crease in his hurry to get back the strike.

Earlier, Chandela impressed as he dominated the MP attack. Not afraid to take the aerial route, the right-hander smashed two sixes apart from six boundaries, But soon after reaching his second half-century of the match, Chandela holed out to long-off to end the 98-run second wicket stand.

Shorey joined Gambhir and the duo added 95 runs in just 22.4 overs before the former India opener departed. Shorey was to miss a chance to complete his half century when Rana slammed the winning six!

MP skipper Devendra Bundela, 40, who has probably played his last first-class match, reflected on the match and said, “We lost the plot in the first innings when we did not score well on a batting pitch. Even in the second innings, the loss of two quick wickets on the fourth morning left us with very little options. I think, a target of 260 could have made it very interesting.”