Railways stares at an innings defeat against Delhi

Railways continued to stutter against an innings defeat and Delhi pushed for victory with a bonus point as the visitor held a firm upper hand at the end of third day's play in the Group A Ranji Trophy match at the Karnail Singh Stadium on Monday.

Vikas Mishra celebrates the fall of a Railways wicket in New Delhi on Monday.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Railways continued to stutter against an innings defeat and Delhi pushed for victory with a bonus point as the visitor held a firm upper hand at the end of third day's play in the Group A Ranji Trophy match at the Karnail Singh Stadium on Monday.

Cleaned up for 136, Railways was struggling at 157 for the loss of six wickets in its second essay after being forced to follow on, chasing Delhi's 447 in the first innings. Nitin Bhille was on 54 with Avinash Yadav for company as Delhi's spin trio of Vikas Mishra, Manan Sharma and Pulkit Narang shared the spoils despite a couple of half-chances being dropped.

Manan had admitted on Sunday that while the pitch itself was far from breaking up, the cracks were beginning to come into play, especially near the stumps. Not surprisingly, Delhi brought in its spin attack from either end early and reaped rewards.

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Continuing from Railways' overnight score of 58 for five, captain Mahesh Rawat tried to up the pace but with hardly any batting left after him, there was little hope of overhauling the target. That too ended once Rawat was dismissed, edging Manan to Unmukt Chand at first slip with Railways only 97.

Arindam Ghosh and Bhille, the two experienced bats in the Railways middle-order apart from captain Rawat, were clear in their objective – avoiding a defeat – and went about doing the same in the second innings. The two consumed 22 overs across almost an entire session of play for their 42-run partnership before Narang finally found the breakthrough, getting Ghosh to edge one behind to wickekeeper Anuj Rawat for 19.

Ishant, bowling full tilt, seemed to be on the verge of getting a wicket every time he ran in but failed to get his name on the scoreboard. That honour belonged to Narang, Manan and Mishra, making his First-class comeback after four years. Openers Saurabh Wakaskar and Shivakant Shkla both became his victims – the former coming down the track only to be caught at short fine leg and Shukla caught at silly point as Delhi bowled with an attacking field in search of quick wickets.

Delhi picked three wickets each on either side of tea break, Bhille cleared the infield occasionally and the lower order got some boundaries but it was a largely sedate batting from Railways as the host seemed resigned to its fate.

Brief scores: Delhi 1st innings: 447 all out in 144.5 overs vs Railways 136 (Shivakant Shukla 29, Mahesh Rawat 28; Manan Sharma 4- 50, Ishant Sharma 3-20, Vikas Mishra 3-37) and 157-6 in 61 overs (Nitin Bhille 54 batting; Vikas Mishra 2-27, Pulkit Narang 2-45, Manan Sharma 2-43).

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