Ishant Sharma led from the front in his maiden outing as captain of the Delhi side, picking up three wickets in the Ranji Trophy season opener against Assam in Group A. The opening day, however, saw the teams sharing honours, with the visiting side fighting on 224 for the loss of seven wickets at stumps on Friday.
Ishant had indicated before the match that the pitch would be helpful to the batsmen and the Delhi XI reflected that, including seven batsmen in the side. But his own accuracy and the sheer pace of debutant Kulwant Khejroliya kept the Assam batsmen from getting off their shots. The pitch had little support, though, with the ball staying low most of the times and it took a lot of effort and hard work from the bowlers to get it moving.
Electing to field, Ishant managed the field well and depended largely on his pace and medium-pace resources to get the result. Left-arm pacer Khejroliya (one for 46), playing his first first-class match, too depended more on pace than anything else to unsettle the opposition batsmen and it was his speed that got Delhi the prized wicket of Assam skipper Gokul Sharma soon after the latter completed his half century.
Sharma added 47 runs for the fourth wicket with Tarjinder Singh and 58 with Sarupam Purkayastha (57 not out) for the sixth to hold up the middle and provide respectability to the Assam batting. Sharma, who took 172 balls for his 51, saw his leg-stump go flying soon after tea, having spent more than an hour in his 40s. Purkayastha then added another brisk 51 with Abu Nechim Ahmed (27) in the final hour of play.
Pacer Navdeep Saini also picked up a wicket in an incisive first spell but failed to find rhythm in the latter sessions even as Ishant took time to build up his momentum but once he got going, he managed to move the ball around a bit, getting Shib Sankar Roy to edge to Unmukt Chand at first slip before ending the day with his third wicket, uprooting Ahmed's off-stump.
Brief scores: Assam first innings 224 for seven in 88.2 overs (Sarupam Purkayastha batting 57, Gokul Sharma 51, Abu Nechim Ahmed 27; Ishant Sharma 3-31) vs Delhi.
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