Ranji Trophy 2012-13: Delhi must score 347 runs on final day for 3 points

Biswajit Jha

New Delhi: Mohit Sharma and Unmukt Chand made half-centuries as Delhi scored 215/3 in their first innings at the end of Day 3 in reply to Baroda`s first innings total of 561 all out. They now need 347 on the last day to take the first innings lead and bag 3 points which seemed unlikely after they lost 3 quick wickets.

After wrapping up Baroda innings for 561 in the morning session, Delhi openers started well on a pitch where Baroda batsmen made merry throughout the first two days of the match. The pitch was so flat that it was a foregone conclusion at the end of the first day that the fate of the match would be decided by the first innings lead, a bane in India`s first class cricket.

Delhi openers Shikhar Dhawan and Unmukt Chand started the chase on a positive note. In-form Dhawan was scoring fast, reaching 30 off just 38 balls with four hits to the fence. But he miscued a pull off Vahora which poppped up in the square-leg area. Delhi were 38/1 at that stage.

Mohit Sharma who came in after the fall of Dhawan`s wicket played very well. He looked very confident from the start of his innings. He, in company of Unmukt Chand, slowly took Delhi past hundred. They put on 87-run stand for the second wicket. Unmukt Chand completed his fifty with a fine hit to the fence. But just when it seemed that he would score his maiden Ranji hundred, left-arm spinner Bharghav Bhatt bowled a beautiful delivery that turned viciously after pitching on the middle-stump line and hit the top of the off-stump. Chand made 51 off 110 balls with the help of six fours.

Young Mohit sharma, however, continued to score runs. He seemed no discomfort against Bharghav Bhatt, who, along with Bhaja, were the best bowlers from the Baroda camp. Bhatt tried every trick he possessed, he flighted, spun but could not break the stand between sharma and Mithun Manhas (41*), who like always, played a typical risk-free knock and ensured that Delhi remained in the hunt on the last day to overtake Baroda`s first innings and pocket 3 points from the match.

But after Bhaja came into bowl immediately after the drink break during the last session, he picked up Sharma for 71. The wicket was a huge blow to the Delhi camp as Sharma looked all set to score his first century. His 152-ball innings had seven boundaries.

The wicket virtually put Delhi on the backfoot as they need to take the safety-first approach tomorrow instead of going for the chase. Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya conceded that the wicket of Sharma changed their game plan. He was very upset with the way Mohit threw his wicket away during the last session."The young players need to learn how to score big hundreds once they are set. This kind of attitude would take them nowhere," a visibly upset Dahiya said after the match.

He seemed also unhappy with the way Delhi skipper Shikhar Dhawan got out. "Despite being a senior player, he played an irresponsible shot which brought his downfall. Had he been there we would have scored close to 300 today."

Earlier in the day, Baroda resumed their innings at 525/7 but lost the two overnight batsmen Ketan Panchal and Gagandeep Singh Natt for 80 and 76, respectively. Parvinder Awana again bowled with a lot of fire and sent both the overnight batsmen to pavilion. The last wicket was taken by Pawan Suyal. Awana was the pick of the Delhi bowlers as he came up with an impressive figure of 4/104.

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