Shikhar Dhawan single-handedly wrested the initiative from Hyderabad with an unbeaten 137 and placed Delhi in a position of comfort on a cold and breezy opening day of its Ranji Trophy match at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground here.
Tottering at 128 for five, Delhi recovered to 269 for six at stumps. Dhawan, who hit two sixes and 19 boundaries, stitched two half-century stands in the second half of the day to frustrate Hyderabad.
Put in, after bad light forced a one-hour delay to the start, Delhi struggled in conditions that assisted swing bowling. After Siraj Mohammad sent back opener Kunal Chandela and Dhruv Shorey with just four runs on the board, Dhawan was constantly engaged in the repair job for the rest of the day, with the other batsmen playing second fiddle.
In fact, had medium pacer Ravi Kiran been a shade less unlucky, Hyderabad would have ended the day in a better position. He managed to ‘dismiss’ Nitish Rana and Dhawan, on 14 and 67 respectively, but off no-balls. In between, he had to leave the field after being hurt in his attempt to take a return catch offered by Jonty Sidhu.
On this day, Dhawan’s astute batting sense pushed into the background the lack of application or poor stroke-selection of some of his young teammates. He saw off the difficult first session and played far more freely in the second. He curbed his flamboyance and refrained from driving away from the body.
In fact, Dhawan moved from 69 to 110 off just 29 balls, hitting two sixes and five boundaries in the process. The over before tea produced 16 runs as Dhawan reached his century with a couple and then scored nine more runs in celebration.
Importantly, what kept Hyderabad at bay were the useful, two-digit partnerships that all added up to help Delhi breath a bit easy. Dhawan added 45 with Rana, 51 with Jonty Sidhu, 84 with Anuj Rawat and another unbeaten 57 with Kunwar Bidhuri to tilt the scales in Delhi’s favour until bad light halted play 51 minutes before re-scheduled close.
Later, former cricketer Sunil Chaturvedi was honoured to mark his 100 first-class match as a Match Referee. In the presence of both teams, Dhawan, Ishant Sharma and Hyderabad skipper Tanmay Agarwal were among those who felicitated Mr. Chaturvedi.
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