Unmukt's ton fires Delhi into command

 Unmukt Chand has taken a special liking to the Feroz Shah Kotla ground. On a slow pitch, that’s expected to assist spin in the coming days, the young opener raised his third century of the season to propel Delhi to a strong start against Odisha on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy Group B encounter on Tuesday. 

 Unmukt (117, 236b, 12x4, 3x6) also knocked his previous two centuries of the year here, against Rajasthan and Gujarat, and continued in the same vein against Odisha as well.  Odisha with their lacklustre bowling had to labour hard throughout the entire three sessions as Delhi finished on 248/5 in 84 overs at stumps with Mithun Manhas (152b, 4x4, 1x6) and Punit Bisht (0) the unbeaten batsmen at the middle. Despite the opening one hour lost due to fog, a strong sunshine allowed an extended last session of play.

Keeping up with the spinning track, Delhi added a third tweaker in left-arm spinner Manan Sharma in the XI besides including medium-pacer Vikas Tokas, the two replacing pace duo of Sumit Narwal and Parvinder Awana.  Odisha, too, made three changes in the side with Anurag Sarangi, Dhiraj Singh and Subhrajit Sahoo replacing Aravind Singh, Suryankant Pradhan and wicket-keeper Haladhar Das.

With the flip of coin, too, going in their favour, Delhi made the most of their decision to bat first. Captain Gautam Gambhir’s restless stay, however, was cut short in the 10th over by Basant Mohanty who trapped him leg before but Unmukt forged two crucial  partnerships — 70 with Virender Sehwag for the second wicket and 122 runs for the third wicket with Manhas — to put Delhi's innings back on track.

It was a restrained innings by Chand, a detour from his love for strokemaking.  With the wicket getting slower, the 21-year-old adjusted himself to the conditions.

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