Delhi v Vidarbha, Ranji Trophy, Group A, Delhi, 2nd day December 15, 2013

Delhi dominate, Sehwag strikes form

The Report by Amit Shetty in Delhi

Delhi 448 for 9 (Manha 100, Yadav 81, Nehra 57, Sehwag 56) lead Vidarbha 88 by 360 runs

Virender Sehwag showed glimpses of his shot-making prowess for an hour and 49 minutes as Delhi's batsmen took apart a below-par Vidarbha attack. On the same Roshanara track where Vidarbha were shot out for 88 on the first day, Sehwag hit his first half-century of the season.

While Sehwag will take most of the headlines, the biggest contributor for Delhi was the experienced Mithun Manhas, who scored his 25th first-class century to stretch the lead to 360 by stumps on the second day.

It is unlikely that captain Gautam Gambhir will extend Delhi's innings further as he would want his bowlers to use the freshness of the Roshanara track on Monday morning to take seven points, which will be crucial to his team's progress.

If Manhas and Sehwag consolidated Delhi's position in the match, wicketkeeper batsman Rahul Yadav (81) and Ashish Nehra (57) - fresh from his six-wicket haul on Saturday - clobbered the Vidarbha bowlers into submission, adding 122 for the eighth wicket. This was Nehra's first 50-plus score in any senior level cricket, and the towering sixes that he hit to cow corner were cheered boisterously by his team-mates.

The pitch had good bounce today as well but it was a mix of better batting and some ordinary bowling that led to Delhi taking a firm grip on the match.

The BCCI had hurriedly sent the head of their Pitches and Grounds committee, Daljit Singh, today to Roshanara, probably to gauge what went wrong with the surface yesterday, but Delhi's batsmen certainly made the track seem less tricky with some solid batting.

Sehwag got going with a punch straight down the ground off Amol Jungade, after left-arm seamers Shrikant Wagh and Ravi Thakur initially tested him with a few short deliveries.

Sehwag went in to lunch on 20 and it was in the first 30 minutes of the second session that he was in his element. The best shot was a late cut off seamer Sandeep Sharma which was applauded by everyone at the ground. Sehwag started walking down the pitch as Sharma charged in and bowled a fuller delivery. Any other batsman would have left it alone but Sehwag just opened the face at the last moment to guide it wide of third slip for a boundary.

There were signature cover drives but the other boundary that stood out was the manner in which he dug out a Wagh yorker and sent the ball racing to the midwicket boundary. He didn't even complete the full follow-through of a forward defensive push off Jungade as the ball raced past mid-on for four to bring up the half-century off 62 deliveries.

Sehwag then lofted Jungade for a straight boundary, but was caught by Vidarbha captain Shalabh Srivastava running back from mid-off when trying the same shot again off the part-time seamer Faiz Fazal.

During Sehwag's rampage, the calming presence of Manhas also guided Delhi as it has so often over the past decade-and-a-half. Manhas played the square cut with authority. He clipped anything on the legs through midwicket, and he drove the half-volleys through cover to bring up his third century of the season. It leaves Delhi in a overwhelmingly dominant position at Roshnara, as they push towards a crowded top third of the Group A table.