Ranji Trophy: Himachal escapes with a draw

Play was called off early after the mandatory number of overs were bowled with HP on 266 for the loss of five wickets in 102 overs in its chase of 376.

R.V. Moorthy

Himachal Pradesh's Rishi Dhawan hit an half century against Delhi on Thursday.

Delhi got the early inroads it wished for but its limited and inexperienced bowling failed to dislodge the Himachal middle and lower order as the visiting team escaped with a draw and one point on the final day of its Ranji Trophy Group B match here on Thursday. The host had to be satisfied with three points for the first innings lead.

Ranji Trophy, Day 4: As it Happened

Rishi Dhawan struck his second half century of the game and Nikhil Gangta remained unbeaten on 66 in 184 deliveries as play was finally called off early after the mandatory number of overs were bowled with HP on 266 for the loss of five wickets in 102 overs in its chase of 376 and little hope for any further success for Delhi. With little support from the pitch and little variation from the bowlers, Delhi appeared resigned to sharing points.

Ankush Bains and Priyanshu Khanduri continued from HP's overnight score of 44 for one but could not add much. Both fell in successive overs, leg-spinners Vikas Mishra and Varun Sood knocking off the bails, in the first hour of play but thereafter, Gangta and Sumeet Verma ground it away for a 71-run partnership for the fourth wicket. More importantly, they used up 29 overs for the same, clear that the visitor was not interested in an outright result.

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The duo was content blocking every delivery that stayed low and the spinners made it easier by hardly challenging them. Captain Nitish Rana brought himself on for a few overs but on a lifeless pitch, it made little difference. Verma was finally dismissed by Mishra and Ekant Sen edged Ishant Sharma behind in the second session but by then it was too late. Gautam Gambhir and Ishant did not take to the field post tea and that should have been indication enough that the game was meandering to an inevitable draw, which it did.

What would concern Delhi more would be the fact that both its batting and bowling arsenal, depleted as it already is, would be further reduced in the coming matches. While Ishant would be flying for the Australia Test series, Rana and Himmat would be leaving for the Emerging Teams Asia Cup next month. Delhi is already without seamer Navdeep Saini, who has been named in the India A squad. The season ahead would only get tougher for last season's finalist.
 

Brief scores:

Delhi 317 & 281 for four vs HP 223 & 266 for five in 102 overs ( Nikhil Gangta not out 66, Sumeet Verma 43, Rishi Dhawan not out 52, Ishant 2-42, Mishra 2-57)

Result: Match drawn, man of the match: Dhruv Shorey.

Points: Delhi 3, HP 1.