November 11, 2001

Delhi wins as Gambhir cracks 107

Staff Reporter

A stunning 107 off 97 balls from opener Gautam Gambhir helped host Delhi register a convincing six-wicket win over Haryana in their North Zone Ranji match at Delhi on Saturday.

Chasing a victory target of 191 after bowling Haryana out for 201 in their second innings, Delhi cruised home in just 33.3 overs, with more than a session remaining on the fourth and last day of the match.

The highlight of the Delhi innings was a brisk 101-run stand for the opening wicket between Gambhir and Akash Chopra, who made 30. Both openers went on the rampage early and looked to finish the match in a hurry. Their century stand came up in just 18 overs as both of them unleashed a flurry of shots to all parts of the ground.

Gambhir, in particular, dominated the day's proceedings as he tore apart the Haryana bowling. He was particularly harsh on fast bowler Nitin Aggarwal, smashing him for five consecutive boundaries in an over. Gambhir's stroke-filled century came off just 88 balls and was studded with 22 fours. He picked up 28 runs off the last eight balls that he faced.

Haryana, searching desperately for a breakthrough, were provided one by Amit Mishra when he sent back Chopra, caught by Shafiq Khan at silly point. New man Radhey Shyam Gupta survived many anxious moments and confident appeals as the Haryana bowlers tried to pin him down and keep him quiet. But he soon cut loose, pulling Gaurav Vashisht for a huge six and following it up with a couple of boundaries.

The second-wicket pair added 61 runs before Gupta perished in the deep, mistiming a full toss from Aggarwal and giving a simple catch to Sumit Narwal at deep-fine leg. Gupta made 33 with the help of five fours and a six.

Aggarwal struck again with the very next ball, dismissing Delhi skipper Mithun Manhas caught at first slip by Chetan Sharma, raising hopes of a comeback by Haryana. Gambhir departed at the doorstep of victory, with the score at 181, when he snicked an Aggarwal delivery for wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra to take a magnificent catch, giving the bowler his third wicket.

Pradeep Chawla (11*) and Sohail Rauf (2*) then completed the formalities. Chawla hit a stunning cover drive off S Vidyut in the 34th over to bring up Delhi's second successive victory in the Ranji leagues. Delhi had earlier defeated Services at the Palam Grounds; now they have 16 points in their kitty with this victory.

Earlier, resuming at their score of 180 for eight, Haryana's tailenders defended stoutly for an hour but managed just 21 runs. Their batting woes continued as Ratra was caught behind off Abhishek Sharma on the second delivery of the day. Abhishek finished with a five-wicket haul in the innings when he also grabbed the last wicket.