Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Gambhir guides Delhi to easy win

Gautam Gambhir made a fluent 44-ball 61 as the Delhi captain stroked his way back among runs and his team back to winning ways against Haryana in the North Zone T20 league here on Wednesday. Chasing 114, Delhi overhauled the target in 19 overs.

Even as the rest of Delhi batsmen continued to falter, Gambhir seemed to be batting against a different set of bowlers on a different pitch.   -  k.r. deepak

Gautam Gambhir made a fluent 44-ball 61 as the Delhi captain stroked his way back among runs and his team back to winning ways against Haryana in the North Zone T20 league here on Wednesday. Chasing 114, Delhi overhauled the target in 19 overs.

The target may have been small but with a team struggling to cross the 100-run mark, Delhi's previous performances would have given Haryana hope. This was, incidentally the highest score for Delhi, with its batting-heavy line-up, in the competition. But even as the rest of Delhi batsmen continued to falter, Gambhir seemed to be batting against a different set of bowlers on a different pitch.

He began confidently and cut and drove comfortably all through, sparing no bowler. Seven of his 11 fours were hit through the cover-extra cover region, three apiece in one over of seamer Harshal Patel and off-spinner Jayant Yadav each. Rocking back to make space for his shots, Gambhir pulled Patel for four over midwicket to reach 11 in the fourth over, entering double-digit score for the first time in four games. That was followed by two more, through cover, making his intent clear.

In contrast to the tentativeness in the previous games, there was no uncertainty in shots here. Gambhir picked the length early, played with a straight bat to race to his 50 in just 36 balls, with the half-century coming, deservedly, with a four through midwicket. Even though some of his aerial hits fell just inside the rope, it was a largely chance-less innings before he missed Patel's incoming ball, losing his leg-stump.

Haryana bowlers weren't exactly pedestrian, though, as the rest of Delhi batsmen continued to fumble at the other end. But Gambhir made them look ordinary. Shikhar Dhawan was caught at mid-on trying to drive an overpitched delivery from Joginder Sharma, Unmukt Chand edged behind poking at an away-going ball from Sanjay Pahal and Milind Kumar was trapped leg-before. Nitish Rana hung round long enough to provide some semblance of support to Gambhir before done in by the turn.

Delhi needed just eight runs in three overs when Gambhir fell but Pradeep Sangwan and Pawan Negi struggled to get even those before Negi finally got lucky with an edge that flew for four on the last ball of the 19th over. Earlier, the Delhi bowlers kept a tight leash on the run rate that frustrated Haryana batsmen and forced them to take risks and lose wickets. Youngster Shivam Chauhan top-scored with 21 while Sangwan picked up two wickets.

In the day's other match, Punjab managed to hold its nerves, winning by six runs as Services tried to rush through the innings and suffered three run outs – two of them in the penultimate over – as it lost four wickets in the last two overs to commit hara-kiri and lose from a winning position. Nakul Verma and Aanshul Gupta added 74 runs for the fourth wicket before both were run out in a space of eight balls as Services, chasing Punjab's total of 129, managed only 123.

At Amtar, Jammu & Kashmir managed to restrict Himachal to 105 for nine, winning by 18 runs after deciding to bat and scoring 123.

Brief scores:

Haryana 114 for seven in 20 overs (Shivam Chauhan 21; Pradeep Sangwan two for 21) lost to Delhi 115 for five in 19 overs (Gautam Gambhir 61; Joginder Sharma two for 15) by five wickets. Points: Delhi 4, Haryana 0.

Punjab 129 for nine in 20 overs (Manpreet Grewal 27; Diwesh Pathania three for 22) bt Services 123 for eight in 20 overs (Nakul Verma 57, Aanshul Gupta 38; Manpreet Grewal two for 13) by six runs. Points: Punjab 4, Services 0.

J&K 123 all out in 20 overs (Manzoor Dar 34; Akshay Chauhan three for 22, Pankaj Jaswal two for 29, Mayank Dagar two for 34) bt Himachal 105 for nine in 20 overs (Paras Dogra 25; Umar Nazir two for 12, Deepak Dogra two for 27, Manik Gupta two for 20, Manzoor Dar two for 27) by 18 runs. Points: J&K 4, Himachal 0.

  Dugout videos