Ranji Trophy: Vintage Gambhir leads Delhi fightback

But Delhi is far from being out of the woods as its score at stumps – 277 for four – still leaves it a whopping 372 runs adrift.

The 36-year-old, starting from an overnight score of 12, played an innings of immense discipline.   -  Sampath Kumar G. P.

Gautam Gambhir led Delhi’s fight-back against Karnataka with a resolute unbeaten century (135, 237b, 20x4) on day three of the Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ tie at the Alur ground near here on Saturday.

But Delhi is far from being out of the woods as its score at stumps – 277 for four – still leaves it a whopping 372 runs adrift. With just a day left in the match, it will effectively be a battle for the first-innings lead, in which, as it stands, the host has its nose ahead.

The presence of some cloud cover at the start of the third day offered hope for Karnataka. Stuart Binny’s medium-paced swing and seam was ideal and he didn’t disappoint. He bowled a probing five-over spell for just 10 runs and snared the wicket of Unmukt Chand who was caught behind.

Full Scorecard

However, the rest of the day was Gambhir’s. The 36-year-old, starting from an overnight score of 12, played an innings of immense discipline. The pitch was a batting beauty and on the day Gambhir timed the ball as well as he ever has. Yet, the scoreboard pressure meant that he eschewed most risky shots on the off-side, especially those hit on the rise, and collected a majority of his runs on the on-side.

Karnataka skipper Vinay Kumar often operated with loaded leg-side fields hoping to induce a false stroke. But there was none from Gambhir. The boundary to bring up his fifty, for which he stepped out of his crease and bisected the gap between short mid-wicket and mid-on, was the best indicator of this. The hundred was reached with a leg glance and a cut behind point for a boundary.

The closest Karnataka came to dismissing him was through a run out opportunity but R. Samarth fluffed it. This wasn’t the only fielding aberration. After A. Mithun had castled Dhruv Shorey (64, 97b, 8x4) during an inspired post-lunch spell, Manish Pandey dropped Nitish Rana at mid-wicket off the very next ball. On at least two other occasions the fielders threw the ball to the wrong end when presented with run-out chances.

It took a fine catch at deep square-leg from Mithun to dismiss Rana. Rishabh Pant started with a swing and a miss but controlled himself well to score 41 runs. However he saw his stumps rearranged by offie K. Gowtham while attempting a lazy cut.

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