New Delhi: Back in form after his fluent century against Rajasthan, Unmukt Chand made full use of playing against below-par Gujarat attack with an attractive unbeaten 97 that took Delhi to a comfortable 178 for one on the first day of a Ranji Trophy cricket match, here on Sunday.
With only 53 overs of play possible on another fog-hit day, Delhi batsmen made full use of a low and slow Feroz Shah Kotla track as Unmukt, in company of skipper Gautam Gambhir (66), added 171 runs for the opening stand.
Unmukt looked confident from the onset as he punished both pacers and spinners alike. When medium pacer Ishwar Chaudhary dropped one short, he was quick to rock back and play the perfect pull-shot behind square for maximum.
He hit three more sixes -- two off off-spinner Jesal Karia's bowling in the arc and one off left-arm spinner Pranjal Sutaria apart from 12 boundaries in 170 balls.
Another three runs would give him sixth century in first-class cricket and second successive in the tournament.
Gambhir, on his part was a bit scratchy to begin with but grew in confidence watching his opening partner in full flow. He also hit two sixes apart from five fours. One came off Sutaria and other off seamer Kushang Patel.
The India discard should be cursing himself for not converting into a big hundred as he missed the line of a Karia delivery to be bowled. Gambhir faced 143 deliveries.
The absence of Axar Patel did hurt Gujarat, who are also handicapped in the batting department due to the absence of their regular skipper Parthiv Patel, who pulled out complaining of cervical pain.
The two new ball bowlers, Rush Kalaria and Kushang were at best military medium and they even failed to hit the deck properly which meant that batsmen had all the time in the world to play their strokes. The odd edge to the slips didn't even carry due to the low and slow nature of the track.
At stumps, Virender Sehwag was at the other end undefeated on 2.
Sehwag normally bats at No 4 but Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya said that the veteran batsman has been seny up to play his natural game and prop up the team total in quick time.
"I would say 350 is a good first innings score on this track. We have sent Virender Sehwag up specifically for that reason ahead of our regular No 3 Varun Sood. Sehwag can easily up the ante. We have got a good start and we would like to capitalise on that," Dahiya told the reporters.
Brief Scores: Delhi 1st Innings 178/1 in 53 overs (Unmukt Chand 97 batting, Gautam Gambhir 66, Virender Sehwag batting 2) vs Gujarat.