Gurbani hat-trick shakes Delhi

Vidarbha finish day 2 at 206/4 in response to Delhi's 295

Gurbani hat-trick shakes Delhi

Wasim Jaffer used  his years of experience to  guide Vidarbha to 206 for four with an unbeaten half-century after seamer Rajneesh Gurbani scythed through Delhi's lower-order for a rare hat-trick on the second day of the  Ranji Trophy final here on Saturday.

At stumps, Jaffer was batting on 61 off 120 balls and Akshay Wakhare was yet to open his account, as Vidabha trailed by 89 runs.

With the  match hanging in a balance, Delhi bowlers' performance during the first hour of the third day could well prove to be decisive in the final context.

Resuming on 271 for six, the in-form Gurbani rocked seven-time winners Delhi by removing three batsmen in as many balls in the second morning.

Among  his victims at the Holkar Stadium included centurion Dhruv Shorey  as  Gurbani became only the second man to claim a hat-trick in the final of India's premier domestic competition. Tamil Nadu's B Kalyanasundaram was the first, achieving the feat against Mumbai in 1972/73.

On 123 overnight, Shorey laced his innings with 21 boundaries before his team was all out for 295. Delhi lost their last four wickets for only five runs.

A day after a rather subdued outing, Gurbani found his mojo back as the 24-year-old ripped through the shaky defence of Vikas Mishra, Navdeep Saini and Shorey off successive deliveries before knocking over Kulwant Khejroliya, to cut short Delhi's innings.

Having found the fence on 21 occasions, including four times in the first session of day 2, Shorey was stunned when Gurbani got one to jag back from a shorter length and knock over the off-stump.

Gurbani delivered three more scorchers on either side of Shorey's dismissal, all resulting in the stumps getting knocked over.

Trouble awaited them as Gurbani got one to prodigiously cut back and remove an unmoved Mishra's off-stump with the fifth ball of the 101st over.

Saini, who got stuck to the crease, quickly went back to the dressing room as his stump was also sent flying by another sharp in-cutter.

Vidarbha began their innings in earnest and went to lunch without suffering any damage while scoring 45 runs.

This season's most prolific opening duo of skipper Faiz Fazal (67) and Sanjay Ramaswamy (31) started the second session from where they had left, adding another 51 runs, before Akash Sudan bowled Sanjay.

That brought Jaffer in the middle but, playing in only his second first-class game, Sudan dealt Vidarbha a body blow when the medium pacer had Fazal caught behind.

He faced 101 balls scoring 10 boundaries.

Prior to that, an unfazed Fazal continued playing his shots and brought up his fifty with a paddle-sweep boundary off left-arm spinner Mishra.

Two wickets in the bag, Rishabh Pant brought back his best bet, Saini, into the attack and it paid dividends.

Veteran Ganesh Satish (12), coming off a crucial second-innings half-century in the semifinal against Karnataka, did not last long and was trapped in front of wicket by Saini.

Jaffer looked solid in the middle and  despite their continuous attempts, Delhi couldn't dislodge the seasoned campaigner as an eventful day's play came to an end.

Before that, he entertained the sparse weekend crowd with a few delightful shots  --  a superb drive past the mid-on, a punch through point and cover drive that had elegance written all over it.



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