Ranji Trophy: Pant ton keeps Delhi alive

Rishabh Pant, the 19-year-old who registered his second century of the season, is Delhi's only hope to overhaul Maharashtra’s gargantuan total and earn three points from the game.

Rishabh Pant ranji trophy

Rishabh Pant hit three of his first four balls to the boundary. The pace of his scoring hardly dipped.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Rishabh Pant's big hundred -- the most entertaining of the match; average bowling on a Wankhede wicket that was at its flattest; and a lapse in concentration by Delhi batsmen towards the end of every session. That was the story of the penultimate day’s play between Delhi and Maharashtra.

At stumps, Delhi was 376 for five, chasing Maharashtra’s gargantuan 635 for two declared in the first innings. Rishabh Pant, the 19-year-old who registered his second century of the season, is its only hope to overhaul Maharashtra’s total and earn three points from the game.

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Despite Pant’s entertaining 155 (off just 165 balls), Maharashtra will have a reason to smile, thanks to a wicket off day's last over. Just before the start of the last over, Milind Kumar asked for a change of gloves, which appeared as a time-wasting tactic. After Pant took a single off the first ball, Kumar edged debutant left-arm pacer Mohsin Sayyed to keeper Vishant More.

READ: >Pant: 'You need double hundreds to get noticed'

That wasn’t the only instance of a batsman losing concentration towards the end of a session. Just before lunch, left-hander Nitish Rana, who had added 84 runs with a solid Dhurv Shorey, after the openers had fallen cheaply, flicked off-spinner Chirag Khurana against the turn only to offer Satyajit Bachhav an easy catch. Two hours hence, Shorey’s four-hour resistance came to an end when he edged one from Sayyed down the leg side to More behind the stumps.

Despite his partners losing their concentration, Pant continued to back himself and play his strokes. He looked at his best from the first ball, which he hit for a one-bounced four. He hit three of his first four balls to the boundary. The fact that 120 of his 155 runs were scored through boundaries – 21 boundaries and six sixes, including one that landed in the dressing room gallery – underlines the form he was in.

His aggression offered a couple of half-chances: a miscued lofted shot off let-arm spinner Bachhav that went a long way up and another one that Rahul Tripathi failed to catch after running backwards from mid-on all the way to the boundary line. But Pant wasn't flustered and remained unbeaten at the end of the day.