Ranji Trophy QF: Chandela, Himmat half-centuries secure first-innings lead for Delhi

Madhya Pradesh finished the third day at 47 for 2, trailing Delhi by 20 runs.

After resuming the innings at 180 for two on Saturday morning, Delhi scored at a brisk pace but lost wickets at regular intervals.   -  V. Raju

A handy first innings lead of 67 runs notwithstanding, Delhi is well aware that it missed out on an opportunity to dash Madhya Pradesh’s hopes of making a comeback in their interestinagly-poised Ranji Trophy quarterfinals here.

As things stand, in response to MP’s 338, Delhi battled to 405. At stumps on day three, MP reached 47 for two to trail by 20 runs.

 

Scorecard

With two days still left to play, MP can tilt the scales in its favour by scoring big in the second innings and exploiting the fifth-day pitch when Delhi chases the target.

Poor shot selection

After resuming the innings at 180 for two on Saturday morning, Delhi scored at a brisk pace but lost wickets at regular intervals. On a pitch that held no terror, Delhi batsmen paid the price for picking the aerial route far too often.

If overnight-not out Kunal Chandela missed a chance to score a century, Rishabh Pant and Nitish Rana had only themselves to blame for falling short of their respective half-centuries.

If Delhi managed to take the first innings lead, it had much to do with the pro-active approach of Himmat Singh, who batted well with Manan Sharma and the tailenders.

Hirwani shines with the ball

For MP, leg-spinner Mihir Hirwani whose bowling figures on this day read 21.4-4-53-5 gained the most from the poor stroke-selection of the batsmen.

Chandela was well taken at covers before Rana missed his half-century by offering a regulation return catch to Hirwani. Pant refused to be chastened after being nearly caught. A ball later, still looking to reach his 50 in style, the captain holed out at long off for 49.

Manan, playing well during the 62-run sixth-wicket stand that earned Delhi the lead, failed to clear the man at mid-on. On the other hand, Himmat, closing in on a century, seemed to have lost faith in the abilities of the tailenders soon after tea and was taken at long-off; Harpreet Singh completing a fine running catch.

The curious case of Gambhir

Though Delhi battled the challenges posed by the opposition, Gautam Gambhir’s continual absence from the field puzzled even the opposite camp.

Like so many times this season, a sulking Gambhir chose not to take the field when MP batted a second time. In fact, after the first day, the deposed captain no longer travels in the team-bus.

Gambhir, in the company of two younger players, covers the 17-km distance from the hotel to the stadium in a car.