As Rajneesh Gurbani geared up to bowl to Delhi batsman Dhruv Shorey, he did not realise that he was on a hat-trick. The young Vidarbha bowler was about to start his run-up, when someone shouted from the stands, making him conscious that he was on the verge of creating history.
“I was not aware that I was in with a chance to take a hat-trick. When I was bowling I was not thinking. With every ball, the intent was to take a wicket. By God’s grace I have been able to do it,” Gurbani said after the day’s play.
He became only the second bowler to scalp a hat-trick in the Ranji Trophy final, the first being Tamil Nadu’s B Kalyanasundaram—who achieved the feat in 1973. “When I was about to start my next over somebody from the crowd reminded (me) that I was on a hat-trick. Then I realised,” Gurbani said, adding that the “plan was to bowl at the stumps.”
After ill health forced him out of the field on Friday, Gurbani was keen to prove his mettle on the second day, and for that he was mentally prepared. “I was not well yesterday so I was not able to bowl a lot. I was preparing overnight so that I can bowl the first over today,” Gurbani said.
While he prefers bowling with the new ball, Gurbani noted: “I prefer the new ball but with this (five-day matches), the old ball swings a lot whenever it starts to behave. That way I feel that the batsmen become vulnerable.”
Despite having scalped 37 wickets in the season so far, Gurbani would want to improve. “I would like to improve my pace, swing and line and length. I would also like to increase my pace and will work as per the instructions of our trainer,” Gurbani said, quickly adding that he has to work a lot on his fitness.
Delhi in a good position
If Gurbani was happy to have hogged the limelight, Delhi bowler Akash Sudan admitted that the seven-time Ranji Trophy champion is in a good position. “We have fought back. Now, we are hoping to restrict them before 295,” Sudan said.
The Delhi pacer, who picked two wickets, also felt that the wicket has eased up. “The pitch has changed a bit, the ball is now coming on to the bat. On the first day, the wicket was helping the seamers,” Sudan said.
He, however, was all praise for Gurbani. “He bowled extremely well. The length at which he was bowling was really good. He was moving the ball both ways, so that was good to see,” he said, making it clear that Delhi would now require a couple of more wickets to take control of the match.
“Now, we have fought back. They are four down, and two more wickets early tomorrow and the match will turn our way,” Sudan said.
With both the sides confident of calling the shots, the cricket enthusiasts are in for crackerjack of a contest when play resumes on day three.
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