Ranji Trophy semifinals: Gambhir, Chandela slam centuries to put Delhi in command

Delhi was well in command at 271 for three at the end of Day 2 of the Ranji Trophy semifinal, within striking distance of Bengal’s 286.

Gautam Gambhir Kunal Chandela Delhi vs Bengal Ranji Trophy 2017

Gautam Gambhir and Kunal Chandela were involved in a 232-run first wicket partnership in the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Bengal.   -  Prashant Nakwe


All afternoon, Sourav Ganguly watched helplessly as the Bengal bowlers were belted with disdain by the Delhi openers and centurions Gautam Gambhir and Kunal Chandela. Seated in the stands behind the Bengal dug-out, the former India captain could be seen screaming at Ashoke Dinda to stick to a certain line when bowling to Gambhir. But the medium pacer continued to get punished.

SCORECARD
By the time the second day of the Ranji Trophy semifinal ended, Ganguly must have felt a bit better with Bengal claiming three wickets in the final session. But Delhi was well in command at 271 for three, within striking distance of Bengal’s 286.

After being hammered ‘left-and-right’ by the Delhi openers, the Bengal players had to deal with Ganguly’s ire in their dressing room after the day’s play. What the former Indian captain might have told the team will not be difficult to guess.

AS IT HAPPENED

Without doubt, the day surely belonged to Delhi as it consolidated the gains of the opening day. Before the Gambhir-Chandela show, Delhi cleaned up the last three Bengal wickets for just 17 runs in 40 minutes of play. Thereafter, for the better part of the day, Delhi openers were busy closing all doors on Bengal.

Chandela, with half centuries in the last three innings, continued his confident showing against the new-ball duo of Dinda and Mohammad Shami. The right-hander drove in style and displayed an array of strokes on both sides of the pitch. He was quick to punish the short-pitched deliveries, showing his penchant for cuts and pulls.

The opening pair put on a partnership of 232.

 

At the other end, Gambhir seemed to have targeted Shami. The fast bowler, summoned for this match ahead of India team’s tour to South Africa, appeared a reluctant performer as he went through the motions without doing any justice to his reputation. Reading Shami’s body language well, Gambhir further softened up the bowler by scoring 22 runs, including four well-timed boundaries, off 18 deliveries.

With the medium pacers erring more in length than in line, the innings’ 11th boundary took Delhi past the 50-run mark. The domination of the batsmen continued with some fluent stroke-play all through the afternoon that saw a run-rate of well over four runs per over.

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If Gambhir’s 42nd First Class three-figure score was dotted with 21 boundaries, Chandela’s maiden Ranji Trophy century included a six and 18 hits to the fence.

In the final session, Bengal resorted to negative tactics to check the flow of runs. The ploy succeeded as only 52 runs came in 26.2 overs and Delhi lost Chandela, Dhruv Shorey and Gambhir, in that order.

In fact, Gambhir’s last 26 runs came off 93 deliveries and his dismissal ended the day’s play. Shami finally had his revenge as Gambhir failed to get his gloves away from the line of the ball and the resultant leg-side catch proved the third of the day for wicketkeeper Shreevats Goswami.

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