New Delhi: Delhi bowlers led by young pacer Navdeep Saini complemented Unmukt Chand's well-made century as the hosts convincingly beat Rajasthan by an innings and seven runs to gain a bonus point in their group league encounter of the Ranji Trophy Cricket Tournament, here today.
In their bid to erase the 239-run deficit in their second innings of the four-day encounter at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Rajasthan opener Siddharth Saraf's brave 88 raised visions of a point for the visitors but finally ran out of steam being all out for 232 all out with all but 10 overs left in deteriorating light.
Earlier Delhi rode on Man-of-the-match Unmukt's 146 to declare their innings on 380 for six after their bowlers had skittled out Rajasthan for 141 in the first innings.
In a match severely interrupted by the city fog, the visitors started today's proceedings on 78 for two but Karnal born medium-pacer Saini, who bagged four wickets, struck early to be on a hat-trick and make things look easy for Delhi.
Overnight batsman and captain Ashok Menaria (19) was trapped lbw and first-innings top-scorer Rajesh Bishnoi was caught behind but new-man Arjit Gupta (37) was lucky to escape after a thick edge fell just short of Virender Sehwag at first slip with Saini missing out on a hat-trick.
But the fifth-wicket 79-run partnership between Saraf and Gupta frustrated the Delhi bowlers no end as Rajasthan took lunch at 101 for four.
Saraf completed his fourth first-class fifty after lunch and carried on the good work.
Gambhir then introduced spin and once again the visitors were pushed on the backfoot as off-spinner Shivam Sharma (3-40) and left-arm orthodox Varun Sood (2-39) worked well in tandem.
Shivam bowled Gupta with a beautiful off-spinner and Sood quickly sent back wicketkeeper-batsman Dishant Yagnik (5) and Aristh Singhvi (5). Saini then got Deepak Chahar (6) caught behind as Rajasthan took tea at 194 for eight.
Just when it seemed like a cakewalk for Delhi in the final session, the ever-resilient Saraf found a partner in number-ten batsman Shailender Gehlot (19) to stitch a 33-run ninth-wicket partnership to try and steal a point.
Shivam it was who sounded the death knell for Rajasthan when the young spinner bowled Saraf on another turning delivery to help the hosts inch closer to a comfortable win. With light fading quickly, Shivam finally got Gehlot as 'Team Delhi' savoured the seven points with a loud celebration at its home ground.
Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya was more than satisfied with the team effort after bagging the all-important bonus point, which they missed in the opening game against Saurashtra.
If Saini led the bowling in Rajasthan's second innings then he also made it count against Parvinder Awana oin the first innings and Dahiya was all praise for the bowling unit.
"We played only for three days (time lost because of fog) and to get a result and getting a bonus point is fantastic effort by the bowlers. Phenomenal it was, on a wicket like this there was not much for the bowlers and they bowled their heart out. It was a brilliant performance," Dahiya said. Gambhir might have got a blob in this game but Dahiya was all praise for his captain.
"Gambhir was excellent. He did everything right. And even against Saraf he tried every bit. We have to give credit to batsman as well and Saraf batted well," he said.
Brief Scores: Rajasthan 141 and 232 (Siddharth Saraf 88, Arjit Gupta 37; Navdeep Saini 4-48) Delhi 380/6 dec (Unmukt Chand 146, Virender Sehwag 64; Aniket Choudhary 3-81).
Points: Delhi 7 Rajasthan 0.