Delhi settle for draw after Sehwag flutter
Gujarat 320 (Rao 107, Narwal 6-71) and 231 (Parthiv 56, Mishra 4-83) drew with Delhi 295 (Manhas 104, Akshar 6-55) and 100 for 3 (Gambhir 44)
Virender Sehwag failed for the second time in Surat after briefly promising a serious attempt to chase down the target of 257 runs in less than two sessions on the final day of the Group A game against Gujarat. Sehwag managed 15 off 18 deliveries and, with his dismissal, Delhi switched to a safety-first approach and played out for the draw. Gujarat took three points for the first-innings lead, while Delhi had to settle for one.
Sehwag didn't open the innings, but he was soon in the middle after Unmukt Chand was brilliantly run out from a direct hit by Jesal Karia at point in the first over of Delhi's second innings. Then, in the first five balls Sehwag faced, he was dropped at midwicket, flicked one to the boundary, played and missed two and defended one, declaring his intentions of leading the chase. Gambhir, at the other end, was also looking to force the pace, but was given a life as Parthiv Patel missed an easy stumping chance. Sehwag also survived a run-out chance soon after, the third umpire ruling that he had made it back in the crease. All that action in the first four overs of Delhi's innings.
Parthiv responded with five fielders in the deep, knowing he had plenty of time. Gujarat didn't have to wait for long, though. In the seventh over of the innings, Akshar Patel appealed for an lbw against Sehwag, who thought the ball had rolled away towards fine leg and left the crease thinking of a single. However, Parthiv had collected the ball with his left hand and flicked the bails off, leaving Sehwag stranded outside the crease.
Sanjeev Sharma, Delhi's coach, justified Sehwag's approach saying that if the side had any chance, it was through him. Parthiv also conceded that Sehwag's wicket put an end to Delhi's aim of chasing down the target.
"He is always a big wicket and you saw how Gambhir was also attacking in his presence," Parthiv said. "But the following batsmen had to change the approach and I think that was the end of the game."
At the start of the day, an outright win had been a possibility for either team. On a deteriorating pitch, Gujarat had a lead of 114 runs with six wickets in hand, a situation from where they could have fashioned a win. Delhi would also have fancied chasing a score of around 220, Sharma said, since they needed points.
The opening hour played to that script as Delhi removed Smit Patel, Parthiv and Rush Kalaria within eight overs. Parthiv scored an aggressive half-century but edged one from Parvinder Awana to Chand at first slip. Akshar, Karia and Rakesh Dhurv, however, frustrated the Delhi bowling for 26.4 overs and stretched the lead by 90 runs, adding valuable runs for the last three wicket stands.
Parthiv mentioned how important those runs were. "I was honestly worried last night, given Gujarat's history at the ground," Parthiv said after the game. "But that's why we have allrounders in the team and they all came good. In the context of the game, that was a vital period."
Gujarat play Karnataka in Bangalore next, while Delhi take on Mumbai from November 14.
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo