New Delhi: Veteran Rajat Bhatia score an excellent unbeaten 133 to ensure that Delhi did not get out in their first innings against Baroda which gave both the teams one point each after their Group B Ranji Trophy match ended in a dull draw at Feroz Shah Kotla on Tuesday.
When stumps were drawn on the last day, Delhi were 505/6 in their first innings in replay to Baroda`s 561 all out.
Since the first innings of both the teams were not completed in four days, both shared a point each.
Only 16 wickets fell in the four days which clearly showed the Kotla pitch played a pivotal role in boring draw. It would be an understatement if one says that there was nothing in the pitch. It was actually a graveyard for the bowlers who toiled all fours days without much success. It was a kind of pitch where positive cricket is almost impossible.
Baroda coach Sanat Kumar was not happy with the pitch either. While defending his decision to bat in the mosrning session on the third day, he said, "Had we declared earlier, Delhi would have bagged 3 points. The pitch was so batsman friendly that even in the last session on day 4 batsmen were in no trouble at all."
Needing 347 to take the first innings lead on the last day, Delhi resumed well. Both the unbeaten batsmen Mithun Manhas and Rajat Bhatia started the day on a bright note. Delhi knew it would not be an easy task to get around 350 on the last day. A ray of hope was the `highway` pitch where even the tail-enders made a mockery of the frontline bowlers.
The first session produced 85 runs. Domestic giant Manhas was looking in great touch. He drove and cut well. His cover and extra cover drives were really soothing to the eyes. He made a fine century, his 20th in Ranji Trophy, before being caught behind by the wicketkeeper for a flawless 106. He and Bhatia added 133 runs for the 4th wicket which gave Delhi a slimmer of a hope.
But once Manhas departed during the post lunch session, it was not an easy task for Delhi to overhaul Baroda`s first innings score of 561 runs. Bhatt struck again. This time he trapped wicketkeeper Puneet Bist LBW for 10.
Manan Sharma then joined Rajat Bhatia who was fighting a lone battle for the hosts. Manan was also playing well but he got out after making 18. Left-arm pacer Gagandeep Singh Natt, who scored a fine fifty, induced an edge which was well taken by the wicketkeeper.
Meanwhile Rajat Bhatia scored a fine century hitting Bhatt over deep mid wicket for a six. His was a gem of an innings as he batted throughout the last day and remained unbeaten on 133. It was his innings that save Delhi from the ignominy of not securing a single point from this important Group B tie. His 282-ball innings was laced with 13 fours and a six. Sumit Narwal also played well in the end for his unbeaten 65 as Delhi had to end their innings at 505/6 on the last day.
Mithun Manhas, who scored a fine ton on Tuesday criticised the defensive approach of the Baroda team, saying that they (Baroda) could have played a little positively and forced for a result. He, however, was happy with his ton: "I am happy with my ton. But one regret is that had I stayed till the end, we could have made a match of it. "