Ranji Trophy: Bishnoi keeps Rajasthan afloat

Rajesh Bishnoi's useful knock of 89 allowed Rajasthan to keep itself in the hunt for a shock win over Delhi in its Ranji Trophy Group B match at the Wayanad Cricket Stadium. However, Delhi is still the favourite to reach its target of 153 on the final day.

Rajesh Bishnoi struck eight fours and four sixes in his rescue act of 89.   -  Special Arrangement

A moment late in the day brought life back into what seemed, until then, a fairly predictable narrative.

Rishabh Pant, in blistering form this season, was run out without facing a ball and Delhi slumped to 35 for three, needing 153 to win its Ranji Trophy Group B match against Rajasthan at the Wayanad Cricket Stadium. Delhi is still the favourite to win this, reaching 51 for three at stumps on the third day. But Rajasthan has fought to live another day.

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That fightback was scripted by Rajesh Bishnoi, who has come back to the side after a year. It was his determined 89 (201min, 162b, 8x4, 4x6) that gave Rajasthan a fair chance; there were times when it looked as though it could be all over on the third day itself.

He showed great temperament and excellent judgment after coming in at a difficult time, staying calm despite wickets falling at regular intervals at the other end. He played some big shots and a few attractive ones.

He got out trying to lift Pradeep Sangwan over his head, giving a catch, in the process, to substitute Pulkit Narang at mid-off. “It is disappointing to have missed out on a hundred after coming so close, but I was not thinking about any personal milestones,” he said. “I was trying to add some quick 20 or 30 runs before our innings came to an end.”

The only other notable contribution in the Rajasthan second innings, which resumed at 19 for one, came from opener and first-innings centurion Amitkumar Gautam, who made 34. Some of the batsmen were guilty of poor shot selection.

Seamer Pradeep Sangwan, with three for 31, was the pick of the Delhi bowlers. “We didn’t bowl enough,” said coach K. P. Bhaskar. “We gave them some 30 runs more than what we should have.”

Not one-sided

The target was still modest enough for Delhi’s formidable batting line-up. But, it received a setback when Gautam Gambhir fell in just the fifth over; he gave a comfortable catch to Gautam at mid-wicket off seamer Pankaj Singh. Then, left-arm paceman Aniket Choudhary trapped Unmukt Chand in front.

And then, disaster struck.

Pant was run out by a smart piece of fielding by Tanvir-ul-Haq at mid-off. The striker, Shikhar Dhawan, is still there, though, unbeaten on 35.

“That was a run-out we could have avoided,” said Bhaskar. “Now the match is well-poised for a tight finish. I have to say, though, that Bishnoi batted very well on his comeback.”