Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Shorey, Rana keep Delhi in the hunt; Punjab claws back with late strikes

The battle for the first-innings lead intensified as Punjab clawed back with two late wickets as Delhi needed another 119 runs with six wickets in hand at the end of Day 2.

Delhi's Nitish Rana and Dhruv Shorey put up a crucial 122-run stand for the third wicket (File photo).   -  R.V. Moorthy

The battle for the first-innings lead intensified as Punjab clawed back with two late wickets as Delhi needed another 119 runs with six wickets in hand on the second day of their Ranji Trophy match here on Saturday.

The fiercely-fought contest saw Punjab’s last wicket add 39 runs this morning to frustrate the visiting team. After Punjab aggregated 313, Delhi finished the day at 195 for four, built largely on the 122-run third-wicket stand between skipper Dhruv Shorey (96, 186b, 13x4) and Nitish Rana (64 batting, 8x4).

Shorey fell short of a well-deserved century, but he clearly played his part getting Delhi this far. His choice of strokes was judicious and gave no chance to the bowlers.

After Baltej Singh removed makeshift-opener Anuj Rawat in the first over, walking in, Shorey gave the bowlers the respect they deserved. With Baltej bowling a disciplined line in his first spell, Shorey displayed patience and went on to carve out an innings of substance.

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After adding 62 for the second wicket with Kunal Chandela, who fell to a brilliant diving catch by wicketkeeper, Shorey joined hands with left-handed Rana and carried on.

The left-right combination frustrated Punjab but all credit to the home bowlers who ensured that run-making was not easy. The fielders, too, played their part in diving and stopping the flow of runs.

With the shadows lengthening and close of play not far, Shorey was eager to reach his century. Off a short delivery from Akul Pandove, Shorey chose to cut but ended up offering an easy overhead catch to Mayank Markande.

A dejected Shorey made no secret of how he felt as he dropped his bat in exasperation and waited for the umpires to confirm his dismissal. Simarjeet Singh, sent in as a night-watchman also did not last the day.

These two scalps lifted Punjab’s spirits as it looked forward to some early success on Sunday. While Delhi would hope young players like Jonty Sidhu, Lalit Yadav and Kunwar Bidhuri could play second fiddle to a well-set Rana and help Delhi gain the lead.

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