Nehra six-for decimates Vidarbha for 88
Delhi 96 for 2 (Gambhir 49) lead Vidarbha 88 (Nehra 6-16) by eight runs
Ashish Nehra turned the clock back with some incisive swing bowling as his six-wicket haul decimated Vidarbha on a proverbial green-top at the Roshanara Club ground in Delhi.
Nehra, who finished with figures of 6 for 16 - his 14th five-for in first-class cricket - took a wicket in each of his first six overs, running through Vidarbha's top and middle order with effortless ease. The day also had a few controversial moments as play was stopped for 28 minutes after a delivery from Parvinder Awana took off from the good-length spot and hit Vidarbha's Amol Jungade (27) on the right shoulder.
The stoppage led to the use of a heavy roller which probably eased out the pitch for Delhi as they pushed the score to 96 for 2 in 48.3 overs. Gautam Gambhir , the Delhi captain, and Unmukt Chand added 78 runs for the opening stand before both fell to poor shots.
Gambhir won a good toss on a pitch that hardly looked any different from the square around it. It was the kind of track a bowler like Nehra needed to make the Vidarbha batsmen dance to his tunes. The grass on the pitch ensured there was steep but even bounce.
Nehra extracted swing to trouble right- and left-handed batsmen. Vidarbha opener Faiz Fazal (4) and No. 3 Ravi Jangid (1), both left-handed batsmen, were dismissed by with two deliveries that came into them. Vidarbha's right-handed opener Akshay Kolhar also got an incoming ball and he responded by spooning a simple catch to Rajat Bhatia at short leg.
Shalabh Srivastava, the Vidarbha captain, got a ball that pitched on middle before beating the right-hander's bat to hit the off stump.
Nehra soon had a five-for in his fourth over, the eighth of the day, as Ranjit Paradkar edged an away-going delivery to Delhi wicketkeeper, Rahul Yadav. Rashmi Parida watched from the other end as 21 for 5 became 33 for 7 and he tried to fight back with a 28-run stand for the eighth wicket, in the company of Amol Jungade.
The teams had a few anxious moments, however, as Jungade was hit by a delivery from Awana in the 19th over. The batsman was writhing in pain as he cried for medical help and panic struck the Vidarbha bench as match referee Sanjay Patil, in consultation with umpires Syed Khalid and CK Nandan, decided to temporarily halt the match.
The use of heavy rollers during the stoppage did not help Vidarbha's cause. Once play resumed, Awana got a ball to rear up and Parida's leading edge flew to Mithun Manhas at second slip. Debutant Navdeep Saini then bowled a beauty to remove Jungade as the delivery pitched on middle and late swing saw the off-stump go cartwheeling. Saini also dismissed the last batsman to finish with 2 for 18, as Vidarbha's innings folded in only 31.1 overs.
In reply, Chand and Gambhir batted for nearly 38 overs before frittering away a good start. Chand, who hit some crisp drives edged one from part-time seamer Faiz Fazal giving a simple catch to Urvesh Patel behind stumps for a score of 37.
Gambhir once again curbed his aggressive strokeplay but threw it away when he was nearing a well-compiled half century. He chased a wide delivery from Sandeep Singh down the leg side, which was taken well by Urvesh behind the stumps.
Delhi will now be aiming to bat out the whole day tomorrow and take a substantial lead, giving themselves a shot at a bonus-point victory.