New Delhi: Ishant Sharma continued his brilliant form with the ball as his six-wicket haul enabled Delhi to restrict Vidarbha to 298 in the Ranji Trophy group league encounter in New Delhi on Friday.
Delhi, in reply, crawled to 132 for two in 60 overs as skipper Gautam Gambhir played a painstaking unbeaten innings of 62 off 180 balls with six fours. In fact, the India discard consumed 30 of the 61 overs as Vidarbha bowlers tried a negative line bowling way outside the off-stump.
The highlight of the day, apart from Ishant's innings, was debutant left-hander Nitish Rana, who scored 57 off 140 deliveries with eight boundaries. Along with Gambhir, he added 112 runs for the unbroken third-wicket stand. Delhi need 167 runs to get the first-innings lead.
The 21-year-old Rana was impressive during his stay at the wicket. Strong off backfoot, the youngster packed a lot of punch in his shots. Especially square off the wicket, Rana's shots were off the drawer.
A square cut followed by a straight drive off Shrikant Wagh was appreciated by one and all. He completed his half century with a glorious on drive coming down the track against off-spinner Akshay Wakhare. But Gambhir's subdued form was the reason that Delhi could not press the initiative, scoring barely two runs per over.
Another bizarre decision by the Delhi captain was to promote tail-ender Pradeep Sangwan as No 3 as the Najafgarh lad came out to bat in the post-lunch session. What prompted the move was unknown as it was fag end of the day and Sangwan is no speciaist to handle the new ball. May be it was something to do with shielding Rana from new ball which didn't look necessary once the youngster came out to bat.
In the morning, Ishant showed that he is a class apart from other bowlers as he intimidated Vidarbha lower-order with pace and bounce. The standout was a bouncer that nearly took Wakhare's head and he was so dazed that he gave a tame catch off the next delivery.
Brief Scores: Vidarbha 298 all out (Faiz Fazal 55, S Badrinath 44, Ishant Sharma 6/36). Delhi 132/2 (Gautam Gambhir 62 batting, Nitish Rana 57 batting).