Ishant's five bundles out Haryana for 138
Delhi 201 (Bhatia 39, Budhwar 4-56) and 35 for 0 (Gambhir 26*, Chand 9*) lead Haryana 138 (Ishant 5-29, Bhatia 4-32) by 98 runs
Ishant Sharma exploited the helpful conditions of the Roshanara track to the fullest with a five-wicket haul as Delhi gained complete control on the second day of their Ranji Trophy group match against Haryana by taking a 98-run lead. Ishant and Rajat Bhatia shared nine wickets between them as Haryana were shot out for 138 in only 55 overs. In the remaining one hour, Delhi scored 35 runs with Gautam Gambhir reaching 26, courtesy of a couple of streaky boundaries, and an equal number of crisp ones.
Delhi's first innings folded at 201 within 17 minutes of the start of play on the second day, with an addition of only seven runs. Ishant then came out and produced a controlled performance as he hit the deck with regularity to finish with impressive figures of 5 for 29 from 17 overs. Bhatia again proved his worth in this Delhi side grabbing 4 for 32 in 16 overs, while Parvinder Awana worked tirelessly, despite getting only one wicket in the innings.
Having been dropped from the Indian team after some ordinary performances, Ishant's sixth five-wicket haul in first-class cricket couldn't have come at a better time. He would be eyeing a place among the pace attack that will be heading to South Africa beginning early next month and despite a helpful pitch, Ishant showed a lot of discipline.
Defending a first innings score of 201 needed early breakthroughs and Ishant got a couple of them straightaway. He didn't do anything spectacular, consistently bowling back-of-a-length deliveries that reared awkwardly with a hint of away movement from the right-handers. The first two dismissals were identical as Nitin Saini (6) and Sunny Singh (1) were troubled by the extra bounce. Both edged it to Punit Bisht, who had a good time behind the stumps, taking five regulation catches.
Ishant's first spell read 6-1-10-2 as Gambhir cleverly rotated his bowlers by giving them short spells, not letting the Haryana batsmen settle to any particular bowler.
After his useful 39, Bhatia bowled within his limitations to trouble the batsmen with his slow cutters. The even layer of grass helped his cause as the ball moved after pitching. One such delivery, an off-cutter for left-hander Abhimanyu Khod (15), saw him edge to Bisht for his third catch. Avi Barot (34) and Rahul Dalal (13) stayed for some time but were certainly not settled. It was Awana, who troubled them with some pace and movement, but was unlucky as a few edges flew past the slips.
Bhatia provided the first breakthrough in the post-lunch session as he got one to dart back sharply to trap Dalal in front of the wicket, though the batsman didn't seem happy with the umpire's decision. Bhatia's third success was more due to Gambhir's brilliant effort at point. It was an ordinary delivery pitched wide outside off and Barot went for a crushing square cut. Gambhir anticipated and took a reflex catch low down to reduce Haryana to 75 for 5.
Jayant Yadav was caught leg before as he played across the line to a fuller delivery, finally bringing a smile to Awana's face. However, Joginder Sharma's (35) entry brought life back into the Haryana chase as he started taking the bowlers on. The pitch had eased out a bit by then and he found an able ally in Sachin Rana (23).
The pair added 46 runs for the seventh wicket, though Joginder off Pawan Suyal's bowling, before Ishant came back and struck again. It was another delivery that rose from short of a length as Rana became Bisht's fourth victim of the innings. Joginder's 73-minute resistance finally ended when he tried to drive on the up and instead nicked off to Bisht, who completed his fifth catch.
Starting the post-tea session at 134 for 8, Haryana could add only four more runs as Ishant completed a well deserved five-wicket haul by bundling out the last two batsmen in successive overs.
Gambhir and Unmukt Chand have done well to survive the last hour, but their real job will be in the morning when Joginder and company begin to move the ball. It's getting easier for batting and like Ishant today, Virender Sehwag would be eyeing a decent knock in the middle tomorrow.