Though both teams missed a trick or two, Madhya Pradesh (MP) survived to fight another day but Delhi remained the favourite for a place in the Ranji Trophy semifinals.
After four days of action, Delhi found itself 209 runs away from an outright victory with all second innings wicket in hand. Trailing by 67 runs, MP battled from 53 for four to set Delhi a target of 217. At stumps, Delhi was eight without loss after opening with Kunal Chandela and night-watchman Vikas Tokas.
Delhi failed to strangle MP after two quick wickets. by dropping catches and missing run-out opportunities. On its part, MP extricated itself from serious trouble but failed to bring Delhi under pressure. MP’s lack of urgency in the final session spared Delhi some added worries.
MP was all out for 283 with only three over left for stumps. Only if MP had given its bowlers at least half-an-hour to have a ‘go’ at the Delhi batsmen, the match-situation could have appeared different.
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If MP finds itself with a fighting chance, it owes much to the reliable Harpreet Singh who followed his first-innings century with a timely 78 that played its part in half-century partnerships with Ankit Sharma and Mihir Hirwani.
MP skipper Devendra Bundela, the most capped player in the tournament, crossed the milestone of 10,000 runs on this day. In what could well turn out to be his last innings, Bundela treaded too far carefully. He scored 33 to take his run-aggregate to 10,004 in first-class cricket. However, during this 123-ball knock, Bundela’s failure to rotate the strike hurt the team.
During the retrieving 100-run stand for the fifth-wicket with nightwatchman Puneet Datey, Bundela played the second fiddle. Datey counter-attacked with a 143-ball 60 inclusive of two sixes and five boundaries, but the 40-year-old skipper could find the fence only three times. The pressure of two early wickets showed on Bundela. Had he managed to turn at least 20 dot balls into singles, MP could have been far more hopeful of pulling off a memorable victory on Monday.
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