Ranji Trophy: Delhi falls short of lead despite Pant triple

Rishabh Pant scored an mammoth innings of 308 to give Delhi a sighting of a first-innings lead against Maharashtra on Day Four at the Wankhede Stadium, but Delhi eventually fell short having been bowled out for 590.

Rishabh Pant’s 308 is the joint-highest score by a wicketkeeper in Indian domestic cricket.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

For any mountaineer, the last few metres’ climb is the most difficult stretch while climbing a peak. Similar is the case with cricket teams chasing gargantuan totals. Delhi fizzled out in the final stretch, chasing Maharashtra’s 635 for two declared for a first-innings lead, in the second session of the last day’s play of the Ranji Trophy Group A game at the Wankhede Stadium.

Despite Rishabh Pant’s herculean innings of nearly-run-a-ball 308 (514m, 326b, 42x4, 9x6), Delhi fell short by 45 runs, being bowled out for 590 in the last over of the second session. The 45-run margin appears significant but it was far from being a canter for Maharashtra to earn the vital three points for the first innings lead.

>SCORECARD

With Pant batting on 155 at the start of the day, Maharashtra always knew his wicket was important for it. However, the swashbuckling batsman kept dominating the bowling after taking time to get his eye in. He took 24 balls to score his first boundary, but once he had got in, he did not look back.

Once Manan Sharma, the last recognised batsman, nicked part-time seamer Rahul Tripathi to Vishant More behind the stumps in the ninth over of the day, the onus was on the teenager Pant to keep Delhi in the game. He asked Varun Sood to hold on to one end, which Sood did to perfection, and took the responsibility of scoring upon himself.

Exhibition

He raced from 200 to 300 in just 98 balls, an exhibition that reflected his audacity with the bat. With Delhi inching closer, the Maharashtra stand-in captain Swapnil Gugale spread the field, but Pant had little problems in finding gaps or clearing the field against all the bowlers.

Pant played his first false stroke soon after reaching the triple hundred in just his fourth first-class match by steering left-arm spinner Satyajit Bachhav to long-off just after the drinks interval of the second session. It resulted in his wicket. Two balls after dancing down the wicket and sending Bachhav sailing into the sight screen for his ninth six – fifth off Bachhav – Pant tried to repeat it, missed it and saw wicketkeeper More dislodging bails neatly.

With Delhi still 58 runs behind, it looked a distant dream for the tail. The tail wilted, with offie Chirag Khurana wrapping up the innings with the wickets of Parvinder Awana and Pawan Suyal in three balls.

Pant on a roll

. Rishabh Pant’s 308 is the joint-highest score by a wicketkeeper in Indian domestic cricket. He equalled KS Bharat’s 308 (for Andhra vs Goa in Ongole, 2014-15).

. Pant’s 308 and Swapnil Gugale’s unbeaten 351 in the same match is the first time two opposition batsmen have scored a triple-century in first-class cricket.

. The only previous occasion when two batsmen scored triple-century in a first-class match was in 1988-89 when W.V. Raman and A. Kripal Singh made triple hundreds for Tamil Nadu versus Goa.

. Pant also became only the second Indian wicketkeeper, and seventh overall, to score a triple century.

. Pant’s 308 is the second-highest score by a Delhi batsman, behind Raman Lamba’s 312 (versus Himachal Pradesh in 1994-95).

. Pant is now the third-youngest Indian to score a triple-century after Wasim Jaffer and Abhinav Mukund.