Manhas gives Delhi 72-run first-innings lead
Baroda 199 and 8 for 0 trail Delhi 271 (Manhas 97, Vohra 4-39) by 64 runs
Mithun Manhas helped Delhi edge ahead after the second day of their Ranji Trophy semi-final against Baroda in Indore. A match in which no other batsman topped 50, Manhas scored a fluent 97 and was largely instrumental in Delhi managing a first-innings lead of 72. They were bowled out just before close of play for 271, while Baroda's openers saw off four overs without too many alarms to ensure that they still have a good chance of fighting back.
The Baroda bowlers kept it tight throughout the day, with Sankalp Vohra, the left-arm medium-pacer, being the pick of the lot. Pitching it in the corridor and getting the ball to angle away from the right-handers, Vohra finished with impressive figures of 4 for 39, and was helped significantly by Yusuf Pathan in the slips, who snaffled four catches.
Resuming at 49 for 3, Delhi's overnight batsmen, Manhas and Aditya Jain, put the team on the ascendancy with a fine 131-run stand. The Baroda new-ball bowlers had managed plenty of swing and seam late on the opening day, but neither Sumit Singh nor Salim Veragi could repeat the act on the second morning, which allowed both batsmen to drive through the line of the ball much more freely. Manhas was the more aggressive of the two, and turned it on even more when the spinners were introduced into the attack. Pathan, the offspinner, was deposited over long-on for the first six of the match, while Rajesh Pawar, the left-arm spinner, was driven down the ground for four as Manhas used his feet effectively.
Jain played his part well, and was just two short of his fifty when he played the ball square on the off side, raced down the pitch, and had no chance of regaining his crease when Manhas refused the single. Manhas reached his 26th first-class half-century from 83 balls, and was motoring towards his hundred when a rush of blood spoilt all the good work: he charged down the pitch to Pawar, but miscued his lofted drive to Pathan at long-on.
Rajat Bhatia and Puneet Bisht, the wicketkeeper, added 40 and helped Delhi past Baroda's first-innings total of 199, but the pair was separated soon after when Pawar trapped Bisht in front as he lunged forward and was hit in line. Bisht looked surprised at the decision, but replays showed it was the correct one.
Bhatia and Sumit Narwal - one of the bowling heroes from the opening day - got another useful partnership going before the second new-ball did the trick for Vohra and Baroda. Bhatia had batted patiently for his 38, but couldn't resist the cut shot when offered some width. The edge flew to Pathan, and Delhi were seven down with the lead just 38. It got even better for Vohra when Narwal and Amit Bhandari fell in the same over - Narwal poked an edge to Pathan at second slip, and Bhandari carved a drive to cover.
Parvinder Awana, the No. 11 batsman, frustrated Baroda briefly, hitting a couple of fours on his way to 12, before fending a short one to the waiting hands of Pathan. Baroda's bowlers had restricted Delhi to 271 on the second day, and the deficit to 72. With the pitch still playing well and all ten wickets intact, Connor Williams and Co will feel the bowlers have given them an excellent chance of coming back into the match despite their feeble first-innings performance.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo