Shikhar Dhawan and Gautam Gambhir were back in the hut early on Tuesday morning. Though obviously disappointed, the goodly crowd stayed back. They must be glad they did. They were treated to a scintillating display of batting by Rishabh Pant. He smashed 75 off just 59 balls to help Delhi take the first innings lead against Rajasthan in the Group B Ranji Trophy match at the Wayanad Cricket Stadium here on Tuesday.
But, this match need not be all about first innings lead. There could well be a decisive result. Going into the third day, Delhi might feel that result could be more in its favour. Rajasthan trails by 50 runs, with nine second innings wickets intact; it was 19 for one at stumps. In a season of poor form for its batsmen, it should be glad that the young opener Amitkumar Gautam, who scored a fine hundred in the first innings, is still batting.
If it was Gautam’s measured batting that lit up the first day, the second belonged to Pant, who came into the match with 799 runs from seven innings. He signaled his intention by lofting left-arm seamer Aniket Choudhary early on in his innings. He also hit three successive fours off an over from another seamer Pankaj Singh.
A fifth hundred for the season was looking quite a possibility, when he was bowled by left-arm medium pacer Tanveer-ul-Haq. He had hit three sixes and nine fours in his 93-minute stay at the wicket.
“I was hoping to get a hundred,” he would say later. “The ball I got out didn’t rise as much as I was expecting.”
There were more fireworks to follow, as Sumit Narwal, coming in at No. 9, smashed 34 off 25 balls, to take Delhi past the Rajasthan's first innings total of 238. Earlier, the team from the national capital had resumed at 37 without loss.
Delhi first lost Gambhir, who was bowled by Choudhary, and then Dhawan, who was caught in the slip off Pankaj. The openers were in for more disappointment as their names did not figure in the Indian team announced for the last three Tests against England.
After their dismissals, Unmukt Chand (32) and Milind Kumar (41) batted solidly to ensure that the Delhi innings didn’t collapse against a steady Rajasthan attack, led by captain Pankaj, who also completed a milestone.
He took his 400th first-class wicket in his 100th match. He finished with three for 66, while Tanveer-ul-Haq picked up three for 55.
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