Bilaspur: Skipper Rajat Bhatia led from the front with a superb all-round show as favourites Delhi overcame a spirited challenge from Jammu and Kashmir winning by four wickets in their opening North Zone leg encounter of the Vijay Hazare National One Day championship.
Put into bat, Jammu and Kashmir scored 245 for four in 49 overs riding on Ian Dev Singh`s unbeaten 102 at the Lohnu cricket ground.
In reply, Delhi were down in dumps at 59 for four before Bhatia played a brilliant counter-attacking innings scoring an unbeaten 106 off only 91 balls to guide his team home with 16 balls to spare. Bhatia`s innings consisted of 10 boundaries and a six.
Young Milind Kumar, who recently played a brilliant knock against England, supported his skipper well scoring 66 and also added 110 runs for the fifth wicket to seal the issue for Delhi. Apart from his century, Bhatia also took two wickets for 45 runs to put brakes on Jammu and Kashmir`s scoring.
With this win, Delhi got four points from the encounter.
The match again proved that Bhatia was, is and will remain Delhi`s `Go-To` by a distance. With the additional responsibility of leadership in absence of Shikhar Dhawan, who will be on national duty, Bhatia showed a lot of gumption as he put his hand up in crisis situation.
With a decent score to defend, Jammu and Kashmir`s new-ball bowlers Ram Dayal and Sohail Wani troubled the top-order. Talented Unmukt Chand (7) added one more match to his list of failures as he was caught by Zahoor Sofi off Wani`s bowling. Debutant Dhruv Shorey (13) didn`t stay long.
With the departure of Mithun Manhas (13) and left-hander Vaibhav Rawal (6), the onus was on Bhatia and he did carry out his job manfully. With Milind who faced 81 balls hitting seven fours dropping anchor at one end, it gave Bhatia the ideal platform to launch into the spinners.
Leggie Manik Gupta (0/32 in 6 overs) and off-break bowler Ian Dev Singh (0/35 in 6 overs) were taken for 67 runs in their 12 wicketless overs which proved to be the turning point.
Brief Scores: Jammu and Kashmir 245/4 in 49 overs (Ian Dev Singh 102 no, Ahmed Bandy 50, Rajat Bhatia 2/45)
Delhi 249/6 (Rajat Bhatia 106 no, Milind Kumar 66).
Delhi won by 4 wkts. Points: Delhi 4; Jammu and Kashmir 0.