Batsmen put Vidarbha in command

Wadkar's ton helps Fazal's men 233-run lead over Delhi

Batsmen put Vidarbha in command

Vidarbha on Sunday inched closer to a maiden Ranji Trophy title by grabbing a commanding 233-run lead against a Delhi side that looked defeated for better part of the day.

For Vidarbha, a little-known Akshay Wadkar chose first-class cricket's biggest stage to compile his maiden century.

Playing in his fifth match of first season, wicketkeeper Wadkar rose to the occasion and remained unbeaten on 133 in a team total of 528 for seven at stumps on the third day here.

In the final session, Siddhesh Neral entertained the crowd with 56 off 92 deliveries, hitting four boundaries and as many sixes.

Delhi were bowled out for 295 in their first innings.

Aditya Sarwate, with whom Wadkar stitched a decisive 169-run partnership for the seventh wicket, contributed a handsome 79 off 154 balls at the Holkar Stadium that witnessed a decent turnout.

Vidarbha, who resumed their innings at 206 for four, showed the intent from the beginning and capitalised on Delhi's lack of discretion and enthusiasm.

The seven-time winners looked shoddy on the field, dropped catches, including a crucial one off the blade of seasoned Wasim Jaffer (78) at the start of day.

Rishabh Pant lacked ideas as the skipper of the side and his outing behind the stumps left a lot to be desired. He was also guilty of missing a stumping chance.

But Delhi paid dearly for the miss by Kunal Chandela in second slip in fourth ball of the day's first over. Running in hard and hitting the deck harder, a charged up Navdeep Saini had induced an edge from Jaffer but Chandela, who dived to his left ahead of first slip fielder Dhruv Shorey, spilled the offer.

Jaffer may have added only 17 runs after the reprieve, but by the time he got out after an hour and a half stay in the middle, Saini was exhausted following an extended first spell that saw him bowl 10.5 overs for two wickets.

Eventually, it was Saini who sent back Jaffer when he caught him plumb in front of the wicket with a ball that came in slightly.

Jaffer's dismissal didn't effect thanks to Wadkar and Sarwate, who played smartly to wear down the bowlers and fielders and take the match away from their opponents.

The 23-year-old Wadkar laced his innings with 16 boundaries and a six straight over left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra's head.

The lack of quality spin options hurt Delhi as the bulk of the load was shared by the pace duo of Saini and Kulwant Khejroliya on an unresponsive pitch.

Delhi's cause was not helped by the fact that Manan Sharma was off the field for a long time, curtailing further the team's spin options.

Veteran Gautam Gambhir was conspicuous by his absence after lunch and that also did not help either, as the young Pant looked bereft of ideas. The out-of-favour India opener also dropped a catch off Vikas Mishra at first slip, the beneficiary being Sarwate.

It was later learnt that Gambhir had sustained a finger injury while fielding.

Meanwhile, Wadkar reached the three-figure mark with a confident smack over mid-on fielder, as his family members in the stands rose to applaud.

Riding on his good fortune, Neral clobbered the Delhi bowlers even as no balls saved him twice off the bowling of Khejroliya.

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