Odisha dominated with bat and ball and survived a scare at the end from Subodh Bhati to defeat Delhi by nine runs in a Group 'B' Vijay Hazare Trophy clash at the Air Force Complex, here. The match was reduced to 48 overs due to wet outfield.
After having left the host nine down for 174 in its pursuit of 250, Odisha foundered against No. 9 Bhati and No. 11 Navdeep Saini, who took their team to the doorstep of victory. Bhati and Saini struck four fours and four sixes between them, before faltering in the final over. Needing 18 to win, the duo managed nine runs.
Till then, Odisha had its tails up for the most part of the innings. Till the 25th over, Delhi was well in the hunt, with opener Gautam Gambhir (44, 56b, 6X4) having laid the anchor and looking good for a big score. Rishabh Pant, batting at No. 5, threw caution to the wind and struck a few heavy blows, including three stylish sixes - two of them on a trot off off-spinner Govinda Poddar. Gambhir's dismissal at the other end - he played all-round a delivery from part-time medium-pacer Anurag Sarangi - didn't affect the rhythm of the wicketkeeper-batsman.
As it Happened: Vijay Hazare Trophy
After Pant was dismissed against the run of play by Biplab Samantaray - caught behind - for a quickfire 39, the innings began to unravel. Left-arm spinner Pappu Roy foxed lower-order batsmen Lalit Yadav and Simarjeet Singh; the run-out of No. 6 Himmat Singh was another nail in the coffin. The contest seemed effectively over before Bhati closed the gap with his smart knock.
Earlier, Odisha's middle order helped pace its team's innings smartly to garner a fighting total. Sarangi's early dismissal to fast bowler Simranjeet notwithstanding, Odisha's top order made hay under the bright morning sun. Opener Rajesh Dhuper (46, 63b, 5X4, 1X6) laid the foundation, leaving it to the middle order to consolidate.
Biplab Samantaray (63, 81b, 3X4, 1X6), the top scorer, milked the spinners in the middle of the innings alongside No. 3 Poddar (56, 81b, 5X4) and Subhransu Senapati (59, 50b, 3X4, 3X6). They were in no hurry to gather quick runs, the plan is - as elaborated by Samantaray after the match - to protect wickets for the business end of the innings.
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As it turned out, the plan was executed perfectly. Senapati provided the finishing touches with frantic run-making towards the end of the hapless Delhi bowlers. Bhati, who gave away 59 runs in his seven overs, was especially targeted.
"Everything went according to plan. The strategy was to consolidate in the middle overs and keep wickets till the end. We knew we had stroke-makers who could accelerate," Samantaray said.
The batsmen were vigilant in the middle overs also due to the pitch. Revealed Samantaray said, "The wicket was two-paced, balls were keeping low."
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The total may not have been as daunting if Senapati had not opened his shoulders towards the end. His knock was the x-factor for the side, according to Samantaray. "It's a good win for us. We will look to carry this momentum forward," Samantaray signed off.
In the other Group 'B' contest held here, Saurashtra defeated Madhya Pradesh by seven wickets. Seamer Jaydev Unadkat and left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja starred for the victors, claiming seven wickets between them.
At Palam - I: Madhya Pradesh 136 in 45.5 overs (Saransh Jain 32; Jaydev Unadkat 4 for 23, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 3 for 33) lost to Saurashtra 137 for 3 in 40.3 overs (Arpit Vasavada 38*, Cheteshwar Pujara 36*; Kumar Kartikeya Singh 1 for 28) by seven wickets.
At Palam - II: Odisha 249 for 4 in 48 overs (Biplab Samantaray 63, Subhransu Senapati 59*, Govinda Poddar 56; Simarjeet Singh 1 for 27) beat Delhi 240 in 48 overs (Gautam Gambhir 44, Subodh Bhati 42*; Deepak Behera 2 for 25, Pappu Roy 2 for 37) by nine runs.