Although Mumbai had the upper hand on the penultimate day after claiming four top order wickets of Delhi for just 110 runs, the 40-time Ranji Trophy champions’ biggest threat was Virender Sehwag.
Being someone who has been instrumental in pulling off many memorable chases for India in Test cricket, Sehwag, who has two triple centuries to his credit, would have easily made a mockery of 330 runs that Delhi needed to win on the final day yesterday.
However, the young Mumbai pacers came out all guns blazing yesterday to take the remaining six wickets and restrict Delhi to 236 — 204 short of the target — to clinch the Ranji Trophy quarter-final at Cuttack at the DRIEMS ground.
Sehwag, who batted at No 7 after viral fever prevented him from taking the field during Mumbai’s second innings, was bowled by Balwinder Singh Sandhu Jr for 19 after striking four boundaries in 36 minutes.
Rajat Bhatia, who top scored for Delhi with 49, added 33 for the sixth wicket with Sehwag before left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh broke Bhatia’s resistance.
The last wicket pair of Pradeep Sangwan and Parvinder Awana’s 37-run partnership only saw Delhi reduce their margin of defeat.
The 27-year-old pacer Sandhu knew the match was very much in Mumbai’s grasp when Sehwag departed. “We all know Sehwag is an attacking batsman. So, we had to keep him quiet. I bowled a tight line on the off and just outside the off stump as our coach (Pravin Amre) had instructed me to. Pravin sir told me to be consistent with the line against him. The plan was to frustrate him by not giving him any room to free his arms. It worked well and he gave away his wicket,” Sandhu told mid-day yesterday.
Sandhu, who took three wickets yesterday to complete a five-wicket haul in the match, said it was only after some time that he realised that he had clinched the big wicket. “The ball just kissed the off stump. I did not know he was out. It was only when some of my teammates started to celebrate that I knew Sehwag was bowled.
“When the first wicket of the day fell (Manan Sharma was caught by Siddhesh Lad off Shardul Thakur), we knew we could win this game. But after Sehwag departed, we were confident that we will definitely win now,” Sandhu concluded.
Brief scores: Mumbai 156 & 450 beat Delhi 166 & 236 (Rajat Bhatia 49; Shardul
Thakur 3-59, Balwinder Singh Sandhu Jr 3-35) by 204 runs