Chand lights up gloomy first day

Cricket: Ranji Trophy

Delhi were off to a strong start against Gujarat, compiling 178/1 on the opening day of their Ranji Tophy Group B match at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Sunday.

The dense fog swallowed the whole of morning session, forcing an early lunch, and allowing only 53 overs to be bowled during the day.

For Gujarat, the day proved to be far from ideal as they lost their captain and wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel due to a cervical pain. Chirag Gandhi came in for Parthiv. Priyank Panchal donned the skipper’s hat for the match and Smit Patel kept the wickets.

Delhi, with the unchanged eleven from the last match, faced the only blip in their captain Gautam Gambhir’s (66) dismissal towards the end of the day. Unmukt Chand was on the brink of a second successive century at 97 (170b, 12x4, 4x6) and Virender Sehwag was on two when bad light drew early stumps.

With sun making its way through the fog, Delhi elected to bat and their openers Unmukt and Gambhir soon gave a peek into their irresistible touch by stitching a 171 runs partnership. The opening overs were played with caution with the two batsmen showing good defence and wisely shouldering arms whenever required. Despite the ball doing a bit, the track at Kotla turned out to be favourable for batting.

Unmukt, fresh from a century against Rajasthan in the last match, batted with fluency and confidence. Gambhir was slow to start with but picked up pace as he advanced towards the 50-run mark. Rajasthan seamers and spinners toiled hard throughout the day but lacked penetration. The Delhi openers cut loose as the score board ticked at a quick speed.

Showing good footwork against the spinners, Unmukt and Gambhir scored heavily against them. Unmukt comfortably scored on both sides of the wicket and was quick to cut and drive whenever the bowlers erred.

Gambhir went back into his shell after showing a brief chutzpah in the middle overs. He, however, was first to reach his half-century. The left-hander smacked Pranjal Sutaria to midwicket and, a ball later, hit him over long on to bring his fifty in style.

Unmukt, too, reached the mark soon. Medium pacer Kushang Patel was sent soaring over the backward square leg to land him at 49 and he soon went past the fifty with a pull over the mid-wicket boundary. The 21-year-old became more dangerous thereafter and went for his shots more freely.

Gambhir innings was curtailed when he missed the line of the ball by off-spinner Jesal Karia and found his stumps disturbed. Delhi will now look to build on the solid platform laid by their openers.  

Score Board

DELHI (I Innings): Unmukt Chand (batting) 97 (170b, 12x4, 4x6), Gautam Gambhir b Karia 66 (143b, 5x4, 2x6), Virender Sehwag (batting) 2 (10b). Extras (NB-5, B-3, LB-5) 13. Total (for 1 wicket; 53 overs) 178.

Fall of wicket: 1-171 (Gambhir).

Bowling: Rush Kalaria 11-6-14-0, Kushang Patel 7-1-29-0, Ishwar Chaudhary 11-1-29-0, Jesal Karia 11-0-36-1, Pranjal Sutaria 8-0-41-0, Rujul Bhatt 5-0-21-0

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