Gambhir keeps Delhi afloat

Gambhir keeps Delhi afloat

In a Delhi batting line-up that lacks in experience, Gautam Gambhir is the lone stalwart. On a day when they required a balance of resistance and runs, the veteran did the job in the best possible fashion.

Karnataka's mammoth total of 649 all out had given their bowlers great cushion to execute their plans to perfection. But a belter of a wicket and a near-flawless Gambhir kept the hosts largely at bay.

The southpaw stood tall with a fine 135 not out (237b, 20x4) as Delhi, resuming from 20 for no loss, reached 277/4 before bad light ended play on the third and penultimate day of the Group 'A' Ranji Trophy tie here at the KSCA Alur (2) ground on Saturday.

With a win looking improbable for both sides, Delhi have no option but to continue to fight even as Karnataka hold a strong chance to bag three points on first innings lead. Delhi still trail by 372 runs and are 223 runs away from avoiding the follow-on.

Karnataka's bowling was far from their best but the hosts did well to deny dangermen Rishabh Pant (41), Nitish Rana (9) and a well-set Dhruv Shorey (64, 97b, 8x4) a long stay in the middle. Karnataka found minimal success in the first session -- claiming the wicket of Unmukt Chand (16) -- as Delhi went to lunch at 126/1.

With Gambhir frustrating them with his effortless fluency, R Vinay Kumar's men needed moments of brilliance and Abhimanyu Mithun (1/56) turned out to be the provider. The pacer produced a beauty that beat Shorey and rattled the right-hander's off-stump.

The very next ball after he removed Shorey, Mithun had Nitish Rana flick straight to Manish Pandey who leapt high but failed to latch on to it. To Karnataka's advantage, Rana failed to utilise the reprieve. The left-hander's pull off Stuart Binny (2/39) took a top edge and Mithun was once again in action, completing a superb catch at deep square-leg.

Rising star Rishabh Pant (41) looked he was in for the long grind but an irresponsible shot ended his knock. The wicketkeeper-batsman tried to cut a K Gowtham delivery that was too close to his body and was castled. Even as the other batsmen squandered starts, Gambhir appeared as if he was in a different zone.

The veteran hardly missed any scoring opportunity and it was a performance of pure class from the 36-year-old. He looked at utmost ease on the leg-side and had so much time to tackle both spinners and pacers. Gambhir's stylish drives on the off-side were marked by fine placement and he guided the short balls off slow bowlers with sweet timing.

Karnataka's fielding slipped more than once, with R Samarth missing an opportunity to run out Gambhir. The former India star though was a picture of calmness despite some anxious moments and stitched crucial partnerships of 110 with Shorey and 83 with Pant.

DH News Service    

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