Mohit and Rawal lead Delhi to 555
Tamil Nadu 31 for 1 trail Delhi 555 for 4 dec (Chand 138, Dhawan 104, Mohit 175, Rawal 100*) by 524 runs
Maiden Ranji Trophy centuries for Delhi rookie Mohit Sharma and debutant Vaibhav Rawal extended Tamil Nadu's woes on day two of their group game at Feroz Shah Kotla. Delhi declared their first innings on 555 for 4 half an hour before stumps and dismissed Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund in the first over. Tamil Nadu were 31 for 1 at the close.
The first two hours with the new ball tomorrow could be the most watchable of the game as Delhi believe their bowlers could do more damage than the opposition did; at the crease however is Baba Aparajith, who got in at the fall of Mukund, and has hit five boundaries against Delhi's new-ball attack.
The nippy Parwinder Awana had given Delhi their breakthrough, the ball flying off the edge of Abhinav's bat to Shikhar Dhawan, who caught it on the second attempt at first slip. It was the wicket that justified Delhi's declaration, that came just after Rawal reached his hundred on his debut.
Rawal had grown in confidence during his 221-run partnership for the fourth wicket with overnight batsman Sharma. Their stand became the centerpiece of Delhi's innings, restoring normal service at the Kotla after Tamil Nadu had taken the new ball at the start of play and had it talking immediately. The overnight pair of Unmukt Chand and Mithun Manhas were dismissed with only 18 runs more scored.
Sharma and Rawal came together and waited for the wicket to ease up and the winter moisture to dry out. They played like Dhawan and Chand had on the first day, and were particularly severe on the Tamil Nadu spinners. They scored 102 runs in the second session and when they came from tea, racked up 70 runs in 11 overs. Delhi's plan, as both young batsmen said later, was to score between four and five an over, with the intention of having a crack at Tamil Nadu for about an hour in the evening. The final session assault certainly Tamil Nadu on the defensive and gave Mohit a chance to show off his improvisational skills.
With six men on the fence in a 6-3 leg-side field, Mohit made room and hit M Rangarajan inside out over cover for four, and two balls later carved him through covers. Then Yo Mahesh was paddled around the legs, lavishly cover driven and cut to the fence. Packing the leg side and bowling a line to restrict runs is within the laws - spirit of cricket discussions aside - but the strategy needs bowlers to execute it.
Balaji, who had bowled 20 overs so far, returned to stop the run flow, and had Mohit bowled with his third ball, reward for attacking the stumps and running into a headstrong young batsman with a 200 in sight. The score at the time was 526 for 4. When Rawal, who has scored three centuries on the trot in under-25 cricket recently, passed his hundred with a single, his team was standing around the boundary line and gave him warm applause. The declaration came soon after. The match is now merely a chase for first-innings points and the Tamil Nadu batsmen would want to make Delhi pay for keeping them on the field for almost two days.
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo