Gujarat v Delhi, Ranji Trophy, Group A, Surat, 2nd day November 8, 2013

Match even though Gambhir and Sehwag fail

Delhi 195 for 4 (Manhas 85*, Manan 59*, Akshar 3-24) trail Gujarat 320 (Rao 107, Narwal 6-71) by 125 runs

The failures of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir had left Delhi in a precarious position in Surat but Mithun Manhas and Manan Sharma thwarted Gujarat's probing bowling on a testing pitch. Their unbroken 146-run stand gave Delhi a chance to pull close to Gujarat's first-innings total of 320 after they had been reduced to 49 for 4 in the 30th over.

The morning session had been all about the anticipation to see Sehwag bat, as several people leaned on the railings in the stands to see who was opening, but were disappointed as soon as they realised it was Unmukt Chand with Gambhir.

Less than an hour later, they leaned again to see if it was Sehwag walking up to the middle after Chand's off stump was pegged back by Akshar Patel, but it was Puneet Bisht instead who took to the field.

Sehwag did however come in to bat soon, as Delhi lost Bisht 15 minutes before lunch. The stand behind the dressing room reverberated with the chants of "Viru Viru", and was accompanied by claps, whistles and cameras, but for the business-oriented populace of Surat, that was one investment that was about to go sour.

Sehwag didn't show the patience to wait till lunch, and charged offspinner Jesal Karia in the fourth delivery he faced, aiming for the long-on boundary. The mishit, though, went only as far as mid-on, where Akshar nervously wobbled under the skier for a few seconds, before sending the whole Gujarat team into frenzy. With that, any hopes that Sehwag may have harboured of making a comeback into the Test team, were further shrouded in thick mist.

Gambhir was prepared to show more respect to the bowlers on a pitch that displayed enough mood swings. It was a typically western Indian red-soil pitch that afforded good bounce to the seamers, but with a number of deliveries misbehaving from time to time, the batsmen had to stay watchful all day.

Gambhir survived against a couple that stayed low, but was dismissed with one that bounced a touch extra and caught the inside edge on its way to the short-leg fielder.

The Gujarat bowlers, on their part, used the conditions to their advantage by bowling on the stumps. Akshar, who came into bowl as early as the sixth over, hardly erred in line or length, bowling a miserly spell of 27-14-24-3. "I was told by the captain about not to worry about the batsmen and bowl accurately," Akshar said. "Had I tried too many things, it would have helped the batsmen. The pitch had enough, so I just stuck to my lines."

Wth Delhi's seemingly powerful top-order all flattering to deceive, It was left to the old pro Mithun Manhas and the young Manan Sharma to drop down the anchor. Manhas, a veteran with more than 8000 first-class runs, tackled the spinners by using his feet, playing late, and by doing what he has always done in the absence of Delhi's stars for the past few seasons - solidly defend.

The seamers troubled him - he was twice struck on the box - but he hung on to score his 44th half-century. There were plenty of deft touches and back-foot punches, as he hit 11 fours in his innings. He also smashed two sixes by driving one over long-on, and the other over long-off.

Manan followed a similar template by waiting for the odd loose ball to score, eventually hitting a six to arrive at his first half-century in first-class cricket. Manhas praised the resolve the young batsmen showed. "Manan is a rookie, he doesn't think about the pitch or the spin," Manhas said. "His head is clear; if there is a ball to be hit, he hits it."

The two fought together for 46.4 overs to slowly push Delhi towards 200.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • irish on November 9, 2013, 11:32 GMT

    Yeah Sehwag and gambhir wont make it to month..But likes of Vijays and Dhawans are gonna face very tough time there..I hope it doesnt dent their confidence..We can only hope they can withstand fury of steyn and company...May be after the series we will realize India still far cry from Formidable Test Team..We get mauling abroad and even struggle against Formidable visitors like England..

  • Dummy4 on November 8, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    Sehwag and Gauti are both very big names, but I think they need to perform really well in the domestic cricket to make a comeback.

  • Dummy4 on November 8, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    Gambhir's come back to the Indian test side has always been in doubt as he failed to correct his technique against deliveries leaving him on the off stump for years. Adding to that his temperament has become suspect in last few years. One would have hoped that Sehwag's case is different and he would return to the side after working on his technique in the first class cricket using glasses (he started wearing glasses this year). Unfortunately his form has just not reached acceptable levels even in first class cricket. He won't step into the field with any confidence even if selected for South Africa tour. Despite Vijay's unproven credentials on fast, bouncy pitches Sehwag's return to the test side sadly looks very, very difficult now.

  • Dummy4 on November 8, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    I agree with you vinod..!! if you see the recent times sehwag hasn't scrd runs at all..but gg has 2 tons..!! if he plays some more better innings around 150-200 odd runs or a would definitely helpful for his come back

  • Vinod on November 8, 2013, 13:22 GMT

    sehwag is unlikely to make a comeback into the indian side. gambhir still has a chance especially when IND travels. but it appears that sehwag, yuvraj singh and harbhajan singh may never play for india again in test matches.

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