Ranji Trophy final: Shorey ton stalls Vidarbha’s charge

Delhi rode on Dhruv Shorey's unbeaten knock of 123 to reach 271-6 on the first day of the Ranji Trophy final against Vidarbha.

Delhi's Dhruv Shorey raises his bat in celebration after scoring a century against Vidarbha on Friday.   -  R.V. Moorthy

Dhruv Shorey, like most of his team-mates, did not know what it felt like to be in the final of the Ranji Trophy. The batsman was in his teens when Delhi last won the coveted title a decade back, beating Uttar Pradesh.

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Over the years, all they heard were stories of that January morning from the seniors like Gautam Gambhir — who, interestingly, was the captain of that side a decade ago.

But now that the opportunity has come its way, the 25-year-old Shorey made it a point to script his name in history, as Delhi rode on his unbeaten knock of 123 to reach 271-6 on the first day of the Ranji Trophy final against Vidarbha. He was joined by Vikas Mishra, who was unbeaten on five, at stumps.

At the iconic Holkar Stadium, Shorey stitched a 105-run partnership with Himmat Singh — who was caught by stumper Akshay Wadkar off Rajneesh Gurbani for 66 — to ensure that there were no slip-ups for Delhi.

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Picking up his century — the first of the season — after batting for a bit more than five and a half hours (336 minutes to be precise), the 25-year-old Shorey helped the Rishabh Pant-led Delhi side steady the ship.

After put in to bat by a buoyant Vidarbha — which is playing its first Ranji Trophy final — Delhi lost three quick wickets before lunch, including that of Gautam Gambhir. The India discard batsman, who skipped the practice session on Thursday, looked set for a good start but was cleaned up by Akshay Wakhre for just 15.

 

Ranji Trophy Final, Day 1: As it happened

By then, Delhi had already lost its in-form opener Kunal Chandela for a duck. After playing a gritty knock against Bengal in the semifinals, Chandela was caught by Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal at first-slip, off debutant Aditya Thakare.

Thakare, a standby for India’s U-19 World Cup squad, was given his maiden Ranji Trophy cap on Friday in place of Umesh Yadav — who is in South Africa on national duty. And the 19-year-old took full advantage of the opportunity, picking up two crucial wickets of Chandela and Nitish Rana —who was trapped leg-before for 21.

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Reeling at 65-3, Delhi pinned its hopes on the pair of Shorey and skipper Rishabh Pant.

But Pant's terrible form with the bat this season continued as he was gobbled up by stumper Wadkar off Rajneesh Gurbani for 21. Delhi by then had stumbled to 99-4.

Himmat Singh (66 runs) combined well with Dhruv Shorey to steady the ship for Delhi against Vidarbha at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore on Friday.   -  R.V. Moorthy

 

From there on, the onus was on Shorey and Himmat to fire. Having a fair amount of experience under his belt, Shorey kept the show running, guiding Himmat along. Delhi would not have reached the 200-run mark had the pair not steadied the ship with a hundred-plus partnership.

While Delhi would be hoping to build on from here on the second day, Vidarbha would ideally want to tighten the noose. With the entire cricketing circuit talking about them, the Vidarbha players have certainly felt the pressure, and that was evident in a few misfields. But then, its bowlers did give in their best to keep the momentum going. After winning the toss and opting to field, Vidarbha was actually able to put the pressure back on Delhi, thanks to some sharp bowling by young Thakare—who opened the bowling attack.

Later, Gurbani too joined the business—picking up two wickets. But then, Vidarbha was bothered by Gurbani injuring his ankle in the 67 over, and leaving the ground. He, however, returned later.

That apart, Vidarbha overall had a rather decent outing. While crowd turnout was a big let-down, the young players had everything to prove in the presence of two national selectors Devang Gandhi and Sharandeep Singh. With plenty of cricket left in the next four days, both the sides would be hoping to get things in their stride.