November 9, 2001

Delhi squander early advantage

Staff Reporter

Haryana's spinners struck vital blows in the post-tea session to bring down Delhi from a commanding position and reduce them to 288 for seven in the first innings in the North Zone Ranji tie.

Replying to Haryana's 316, Delhi failed to capitalise on a 121-run opening stand between Gautam Gambhir (91) and Akash copra (48). From a dominant position of 166 for two, Delhi collapsed to 260 for seven, with Amit Mishra striking thrice and Gautam Vashisht twice.

Earlier, resuming at their overnight score of 282 for eight, Haryana added 34 runs in eight overs before Arun Singh ended the innings by taking the wickets of Sumit Narwal (39) and Nitin Aggarwal (11). The Delhi openers settled down early and soon got into an aggressive mode, hitting pace bowlers S Vidyut and Narwal all over the ground.

Just when the partnership was going strong, and the hosts were firmly on the road to a huge first innings score, Haryana got a breakthrough when Nitin Aggarwal's direct hit broke the stumps at the non-striker's end while Chopra was attempting a cheeky single.

Gambhir added 43 runs with new man Radhey Shyam Gupta. Just when he looked set for a well-deserved century, however, he was deceived as he jumped out to a flighted ball from Vashisht, keeper Ratra whipping off the bails in a flash.

Vashisht struck again after four overs, dismissing Gupta caught at silly point by Shafiq Khan with the scoreboard reading 179 for three. Haryana clawed their way back into the game, grabbing four more wickets within a space of 10 overs, the Mishra-Vashisht combination bowling accurately.

But Delhi skipper Mithun Manhas (45 off 32 balls) refused to give up and executed some powerful shots in trying to stem the rot. He collaborated with Pradeep Chawla to add 44 runs, even as Haryana's bowlers were on the rampage.

Manhas could not hold on for long, though, as he was trapped in front by Aggarwal. Even as Delhi's middle order failed, the tailenders not only showed resistance, but adopted attack as the best form of defence, with Sarandeep Singh (20) and Abhishek Sharma (23*) making some quick runs and hitting four boundaries each. Sharma and Amit Bandhari (4*) were at the crease, and the hosts still trailed by 28 runs, when stumps were drawn.