Ranji Trophy: Delhi edges ahead after Subodh Bhati fireworks

No. 9 Subodh Bhati hits a breezy 53-ball 62 to help set Bengal a stiff target of 322.

Muscle man: Subodh Bhati attempts a belligerent stroke en route to his 62 at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday.   -  AP

Delhi found an unlikely hero in No. 9 batsman Subodh Bhati, whose maiden half-century, a breezy 53-ball 62, helped his team to set Bengal a stiff target in the Ranji Trophy Group B match at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday.

Resuming at 41 for two, Delhi benefitted from Bhati and Himmat Singh’s useful knocks to score 301 in its second innings and set the host 322 to win. Bengal was 18 for no loss at the close of the penultimate day’s play.

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When Delhi lost its ninth wicket at 221, thanks to another big-hearted five-wicket haul by Bengal trump card Ashoke Dinda, the match looked evenly-poised in the final session. However, Bhati (62 off 53, 5x4, 6x6) and Kulwant Khejroliya (21 off 18, 3x4, 1x6) swung their arms fearlessly to whip the Bengal bowlers at will and switch the momentum in Delhi’s favour in 10 overs.

Sensible batting

Earlier, overnight batsmen Kunal Chandela and Nitish Rana added 24 runs before parting ways.

Himmat Singh (51, 92b, 7x4) and Jonty Sidhu (42, 90b, 5x4, 1x6) batted sensibly to gather 85 runs for the fifth wicket. Himmat cut and drove, while Sidhu played with a straight bat to gather most of their runs. Himmat fell to a poor shot outside the off-stump. Sidhu stepped out and was stumped before tea.

Ashoke Dinda was Bengal's most successful bowler in the second innings, with 5 for 88. Photo: PTI

 

Mukesh had Shivank Vashisth caught in the slips with the new ball to end the latter’s 32-run stand with Shivam Sharma (27).

Five-for for Dinda

Dinda, who hit the right line and length to pick up the wickets of Hiten Dalal and Anuj Rawat overnight and Rana in the morning, shouldered the maximum workload. He had Shivam lbw and Akash Sudan caught behind to complete his 26th five-wicket haul and return match figures of nine for 150.

Bhati, known for his batting exploits in club cricket and his 57-ball 200 in Goan league, upset the host’s plans by plundering runs at will off bouncers. Bhati not only entertained the holiday crowd by hammering six sixes between long-on and long-off but also protected Khejroliya to stretch Delhi’s lead before being run out.

Brief Scores
  • Delhi 240 and 301 (Subodh Bhati 62, Himmat Singh 51, Ashoke Dinda 5 for 88) leads Bengal 220 and 18 for 0 by 303 runs.