Vineet Ramakrishnan & Feroz Khan
With Delhi taking on Baroda in the Ranji Trophy fixture at the Ferozshah Kotla, all eyes were on two fast bowlers – Irfan Pathan and Ashish Nehra. Once regulars in the Indian squad, both are now eying an opportunity to book a place for the upcoming Australian tour.
And they did not disappoint. Ashish Nehra, playing the Ranji season after three years, grabbed six wickets to help restrict Baroda for 318 on Day 2 and Irfan Pathan answered back with a seven wicket haul. But the star of the match was neither Pathan nor Nehra, but Delhi’s 25-year old diminutive wicket keeper batsmen Punit Bisht who scored a brilliant 223 not out to give Delhi a decisive lead.
At end of Day 3, Baroda were looking down the barrel with 81 for 4. At stumps, as Punit Bisht spoke to a small group of scribes, describing his double century as the best knock of his career so far.
“This is the best hundred I have scored”, said an elated Bisht. Delhi were reeling at 74 for 5 at Day 2 when Bisht walked in at No. 7 and along with captain Mithun Manhas and the tail compiled a gritty 223 off 290 deliveries which included 30 fours and two sixes. “Delhi haven’t had the best of seasons so far and this knock was definitely a needful one for the team,” he further added.
Punit’s previous highest in first class cricket was 156 that came four years back. Punit said that playing with the tail is tough and the No.7 position is a very crucial one. He said, “No.6 and No.7 is always a very crucial position and whenever you do well in that position with the tailenders, it counts every time.”
“Irfan Pathan was the only real threat and there were no issues dealing with the rest of the bowling attack”, he further added.
Pathan who finished with 7/114 with an economy of over 4 was also happy with his performance. He said “I am feeling at the top of my game at the moment. I can feel that my rhythm is coming back and I am concentrating on bowling well.”
This was Pathan’s third 5-for in as many matches this season. He currently has 19 wickets in his kitty.