Delhi v Haryana, Ranji Trophy, Delhi, 1st day November 21, 2013

Sehwag fails again, Delhi batsmen struggle

Amit Shetty

Delhi 194 for 8 (Gambhir 29, Sehwag 3, Budhwar 4-56) v Haryana

Virender Sehwag's woeful form in domestic cricket continued as Delhi's much vaunted batting line-up flattered to deceive yet again, finishing first day's play against Haryana at 194 for 8 in 84 overs at Roshanara Club Ground. It was yet another poor show by the home team batsmen as none of the top six were able to even get past the 40-run mark. The captain Gautam Gambhir too failed, scoring 29.

Haryana captain Harshal Patel chose to bowl on a seamer-friendly Roshanara pitch, as Delhi looked to force an outright result with just three points from as many games.

Left-arm seamer Sanjay Budhwar and the experienced Joginder Sharma troubled the Delhi batsmen, bowling to a tight channel and also getting some seam movement. While Budhwar grabbed 4 for 56, Joginder, who was troubled by a hamstring pull, supported him well with 2 for 32 from 17.2 overs.

Save for Punit Bisht (33) and Rajat Bhatia (39), none of the other Delhi batsmen looked in control of the situation. Unmukt Chand played a poor shot driving on the up off Budhwar and offered a low catch to Patel at cover. Although he doesn't want to open, Sehwag ended up facing the 12th ball on the first morning. During his 30-ball stay at the wicket, he looked ill at ease. He played and missed a few deliveries from Joginder, survived a confident leg before appeal to a delivery that came in.

The famed Sehwag-Gambhir combination didn't appear convincing, with Gambhir managing a few streaky boundaries behind square. Joginder finally ended Sehwag's wretched run as he pitched one just short of a good length and got it to seam away with the batsman edging to the wicketkeeper Nitin Saini.

Sehwag now has only 63 runs from five innings in the Ranji Trophy, with the only 30 plus score coming in the inconsequential second innings against Mumbai. Gambhir and Mithun Manhas were together for 16 overs in which they added 27 runs but not once did they dominate the bowling.

Incidentally, Gambhir during his 84-ball innings, couldn't hit a single stroke in front of the wicket. Three of his four boundaries were behind square and the only confident shot was hitting Ashish Hooda through square leg for a boundary.

But as the lunch break approached, Budhwar got one to hold its line as Gambhir attempted a defensive prod. The result was an inside edge that sent the middle stump for a walk.

Gambhir may have scored more than Sehwag in this Ranji season, but the Delhi captain looked as clueless. Manhas, who came into the match with back-to-back hundreds, didn't fire this time as Joginder forced him to play a fuller delivery shaping away. It was a smart catch by Saini, who dived to his right to pouch it in front of first slip. Vaibhav Rawal defended doggedly, while Rajat Bhatia went for his shots, hitting a few flowing cover drives. The duo added 59 for the fifth wicket in just under 30 overs before Bhatia paid for his indiscretion. Bhatia played away from his body to a wide delivery from medium-pacer Sachin Rana, giving Saini his third catch of the day.

At 109 for 5, Bisht joined Rawal, who was happy blocking the deliveries or leaving them outside the off stump. Finally facing his 109th delivery, Rawal ran out of patience as he tried to play on the up off Budhwar but the edge flew to Rana at second slip.

Bisht tried to counter-attack as he hit a four and a big six off the offspinner Jayant Yadav. He quickly reached 33 before he went for an expansive drive off a pitched-up delivery by Budhwar, only to be caught by Rahul Dalal at first slip.

Ishant Sharma was done in by the extra bounce but one would expect him to use the conditions well, once he gets the ball.

With Delhi also possessing a potent new-ball attack, it will be a test for the Haryana batsmen as well with the match poised for an outright result.