Ranji Trophy: Gritty Orissa denies Delhi victory

Orissa, trailing by 258 runs on the first innings, owed it to Biplab Samantray and Saurabh Rawat to help earn the team a point.

Biplab Samantray batted 221 balls and hit 11 fours in his responsible knock.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Delhi sorely missed a strike bowler as Orissa, resuming at 109 for four, hung in doggedly to deny the opposition a victory on the final day of the Ranji Trophy match at the I. S. Bindra Stadium here on Sunday.

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Desperate to enforce an outright win, Delhi’s over-reliance on Ishant Sharma hardly helped the team. Ishant bowled his heart out but lacked support at the other end. Orissa, trailing by 258 runs on the first innings, owed it to Biplab Samantray (88) and Saurabh Rawat (55) to help earn the team a point. Importantly, they restricted Delhi to three points despite the efforts of Ishant, who deserved more than the one wicket that came his way on the final day.

Samantray, who had produced a composed 62 in the first innings, batted with tremendous discipline and fought the challenge that came in the shape of Ishant. Samantray blunted the Delhi attack with his admirable defence and credit to him for making good use of the loose balls to help himself to a decent performance in the match. A rare lapse of concentration saw him swing at the rising ball from Sumit Narwal only to nick the ball behind.

The sixth-wicket stand between Samantray and Rawat yielded 134 runs with the batsmen complementing each other with their excellent temperament. Samantray batted 221 balls and hit 11 fours in his responsible knock while Rawat faced 189 balls for his 55 which contained eight fours. He was out at the stroke of tea when Ishant lured him outside the off-stump and the resultant edge flew to Milind Kumar in the slips.

Left-arm spinner Varun Sood, who had toiled for a wicket, ultimately got one when he bowled Deepak Behera but it was too late in the day. Delhi pressed hard to make another dent but Orissa was not to be denied a draw it had earned with a dedicated approach through the ranks. The docile pitch too helped Orissa and left Delhi lamenting with a draw when victory was well within grasp.

“Obviously disappointed,” said Delhi coach K. P. Bhaskar. “We could have done better. We got an early wicket today but could not press home that advantage. The pitch was slow and there was nothing for the spinners. Ishant bowled his heart out but credit to the Orissa batsmen.”

For Samantray, it was perfect execution of the plans. “We knew runs would come if we stayed at the wicket. We had to see off Ishant’s spell and moisture in the morning. I missed a big score twice in this match and that was the lesson learnt from Gautam (Gambhir) and Milind. I knew the onus was on me but it is now nice to have young batsmen like Sandeep (Pattanaik) and Subhranshu (Senapati). They are bright prospects for Orissa cricket.”

For his brilliant 147, Gambhir was adjudged the Man of the Match.