A confident six over midwicket that landed in the stands saw Dhruv Shorey more relieved than elated, giving him only his fourth First-Class century in 22 games across four seasons playing for Delhi and ended a stream of big scores that had failed to turn into three-figures.
It also helped the host rack up 281 runs and declare its second innings for an overall lead of 375 against Himachal Pradesh on the third day of the Ranji trophy game, here, on Wednesday and enough time for its bowlers to try and go for an outright win to kickstart its campaign in the tournament. At stumps, Himachal was 44 for the loss of its captain Prashant Chopra with Ankush Bains and Priyanshu Khanduri holding fort through the final session on the day.
Shorey had managed 88 in the first innings before throwing away his wicket. On Wednesday, he made sure it wouldn't happen again. Mixing aggression with prudence, he picked the right balls to play his shots, using his feet and a straight bat to block anything that stayed low. Mayank Dagar was the pick of Himachal bowlers, getting three of the four wickets that fell – Gautam Gambhir was run out, guilty of being casual in grounding his bat going for the second run and falling short – by mixing the length of his deliveries.
AS IT HAPPENED: Ranji Trophy 2018-19, Round 2 Day 3 Highlights
Shorey, though, was patient in his knock. He built useful partnerships with the other batsmen and took the lead in rotating the strike even as wickets fell at the other end after getting starts. With the ball turning occasionally and rising up from the scattered rough spots, Himachal bowlers tried bowling down the leg side to curb the scoring, but Shorey used his wrists to break the shackles and avoid stagnation.
Having halted Himachal's chase to 223 in the first innings, Delhi would have hoped to capitalise on the fading light and slightly nippy conditions post-tea, but a perfect inswinger from Ishant Sharma that hit the stumps was the only success. Shorey's previous century had been in a lost cause against Vidarbha in the final last year. This one, though might end see him end up on the winning side, provided the Delhi bowlers manage to make quick inroads and, more importantly, the fielding get its act together on the final day.
Delhi 317 and 281 declared (Gautam Gambhir run out 49, Dhruv Shorey 106 not out; Dagar 3-70) leads HP 223 and 44-1 (Khanduri 22 not out, Bains 16 not out; Sharma 1-14) by 332 runs.
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