Ayush Badoni cracked a superbly-paced century (191, 230b, 24x4, 6x6) and then saw his pacer Harshit Rana strike four decisive blows as Delhi pushed Hyderabad to the brink of another probable defeat on the third day of the four-day Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Thursday.
Resuming at the overnight score of 223 for five, Delhi was in a spot of bother after left-arm spinner G. Aniketh Reddy struck twice in the 66th over removing wicketkeeper-batter Anuj Rawat (11) and Pranshu Vijayran (0) to make the score 277 for eight.
Then, the 23-year-old Badoni, playing his third first-class match, dished out an object lesson in the art of farming the strike. The way he stepped out to the spinner and even launched into some audacious shots which cleared the fence six times was a treat to watch.
With a defiant Harshit Rana (58, 90b, 8x4, 1x6), Badoni put on 122 runs off 167 balls for the ninth wicket which helped Delhi clinch the vital first innings lead and push the home team into a state of despair.
But, later the Lucknow Super Giants batter was unlucky to miss a double century, as he tried to swing Aniketh, only to miss the line and be bowled to give the bowler his fifth wicket of the innings.
Clearly, Badoni played one of the best innings ever at this venue in a first-class game under pressure.
And, when Hyderabad batted second time, 78 runs in arrears, captain Tanmay Agarwal was shocked to be given out, caught behind trying to pull Rana in the fifth over of the innings. He was visibly disappointed, suggesting the bat was in no way in line with the ball.
Soon, the other pacer Divij Mehra forced wicketkeeper Rahul Radesh (6) to snick to wicketkeeper Rawat. Then, Rana struck three more blows removing Nitesh Reddy, with Hrithik Shokeen pulling off a brilliant diving catch at square-leg of a pull from the batter, and then Chandan Sahani was bowled for a duck.
In the closing stages, Rana sent back first-innings centurion Rohit Rayudu to make it 76 for five. By all means, now only a miracle will save Hyderabad which is ahead by only 12 runs.
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