Andhra batters laid the foundation for a formidable first-innings total but the inexperienced Delhi bowlers had the satisfaction of keeping the run-rate in check on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy league match at the Arun Jaitley Stadium here.
After a delayed start of 90 minutes due to poor visibility, Delhi put Andhra in. In spite of facing a none-too-intimidating attack on a placid pitch, Andhra ended the day at 203 for three in 74 overs.
The high-point was the second-wicket stand involving C. R. Gnaneshwar (81, 158b, 14x4) and skipper Hanuma Vihari (batting 76, 202b, 11x4) worth 106 runs off 260 deliveries.
Knowing the limitations of Delhi’s bowlers, Andhra could have stepped the scoring rate but chose to play it safe.
It is common knowledge that poor visibility early in the first session and late in the third session is certain to curtail play on all the days, Andhra’s winning chances depend on how soon they score big. After all, if it is seriously looking for a win, Andhra will have to give its bowlers time to get Delhi bowled twice.
On Delhi’s part, it was left to briefly rue the dropped catch of opener Abhishek Reddy. When debutant Divij Mehra came to bowl the second over of the innings, he could have had Reddy off the first ball but Himmat Singh dropped a regulation catch at second slip.
As it turned out, Mehra eventually had his man caught behind to end the opening stand of 47.
The wicketless second session, which produced 87 runs in 150 minutes, ended with Gnaneshwar and Vihari on 68 and 36 after facing 129 deliveries each. Vihari’s over-cautious approach in turn helped the hapless Delhi bowlers retain their self-belief.
In the final session, Gnaneshwar and new-man Ricky Bhui fell in the space of 27 runs to bring some joy to the home team. Vihari and K. S. Bharat then played for stumps by adding 23 runs off 62 deliveries.
The umpires did well to regain 60 minutes of the lost time by extending the second and third sessions by half-an-hour each.
Since only 74 overs were possible on Tuesday, the over-rate in the coming days could well be a crucial factor like it proved in the drawn match involving Delhi and Tamil Nadu a fortnight back.