August 17, 2000

Das, Gambhir put NCA on strong wicket

Despite losing Sridharan Sriram for a fourth ball duck, the National Cricket Academy were making strong progress in their bid to overcome Air India's first innings score of 277 on the second day of their Buchi Babu pre-quarterfinal. An undefeated century stand inside 38 overs by Shiv Sunder Das and Gautam Gambhir helped them to the comforting reaches of 124/1 at close, a position from which they now trail by 153 runs with nine wickets, including the likes of Mohammed Kaif, Reetinder Sodhi and Yuvraj Singh, in hand.

Resuming on their overnight score of 186/6 at the Guru Nanak College Ground in Madras today, Air India's lower order put up some stubborn resistance in the morning, revolving around all rounder Harvinder Singh Sodhi. He made a priceless 55, inclusive of seven hits to the fence, in a 259 minute vigil at the middle. Wicketkeeper NG Gavas made 13 in almost two hours, helping Sodhi add 46 for the seventh wicket before he was snaffled by his fellow glovesman, Rohit Jhalani to give off spinner Mohd. Kaif his second wicket.

Faisal Sheikh was then involved in another niggling 36 run stand with Sodhi before the latter was trapped leg before by his namesake, the NCA skipper Reetinder, with the score at 260. Sodhi then closed out the innings in the 149th over by castling both Sheikh (25) and last man Narendra Hirwani (8). Among eight bowlers used, Sodhi finished with the best figures of 3/39 from 24.2 overs. It was a fine rearguard action by Air India who recovered after being 136/5 at one stage, their last five wickets producing more than half the total.

The National Cricket Academy were in for a shock when MRF Pace Foundation product Harvinder Sodhi knocked over Sriram's wicket with the fourth ball of his first over. 22 year old Orissa right hander Das, who visited Australia recently, along with Sriram and Kaif, for a three week stint at the Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide and 18 year old Delhi left hander Gambhir, one of the probables for the Under 19 World Cup in January this year, then shut out their opponents with a 124 run second wicket stand. The Air India attack was rather thin with only Sodhi and Hirwani having some pretensions. At stumps Das had struck 55 (113 balls, 8 fours) while Gambhir had forced his way to 64 (116 balls, 9 fours).