UP's relegation scare and Delhi's steady progress January 15, 2008

Road to the final

Cricinfo staff

India discards Mohammad Kaif and Suresh Raina lent plenty of experience to UP, fighting back after the team nearly got relegated © Cricinfo Ltd

Uttar Pradesh

Round 1, v Orissa in Cuttack
Uttar Pradesh 448 (Raina 203, Chawla 69, Preetamjit Das 5-63) beat Orissa 216 (SS Das 75, Jayachandra 55, Tyagi 6-46) and 222 (Halhadar Das 71, Jayachandra 50, Tyagi 4-46) by an innings and 10 runs

Seamer Sudeep Tyagi made a golden debut as he had dismissed half the Orissa side by lunch. He followed-up the three wickets in the first session with three more as UP bowled Orissa out for 216. From 35 for 3, Suresh Raina revived UP with a blinder - a big one at that, 203 off 201 balls - and UP had attained a huge lead with lots of time to spare. Tyagi continued the dream debut with four more wickets in the second innings, as UP won by an innings and 10 runs.

Points at the end of the round: 6

Round 2, v Andhra in Anantapur
Uttar Pradesh 298 (Ravikant 99*, Vijay Kumar 4-75) and 297 for 6 dec. (Kaif 122*, Shankara Rao 4-72) drew with Andhra 326 (Reddy 132, Varma 61, Tyagi 6-95) and 203 for 4 (Reddy 103, Tyagi 3-68)

Most of UP's batsmen got starts and then gave it away, but for Ravikant Shukla who took them from 126 for 5 to 298. Ravikant was left stranded on 99. Tyagi had another six-wicket haul, but a century by Prasad Reddy and some lower-order resistance meant that Andhra got the first-innings lead. Mohammad Kaif scored a quick century to set up a target, but apart from Tyagi not many bowlers impressed as Andhra played out a draw and took the first-innings points.

Points at the end of the round: 7

Round 3, v Punjab in Mohali
Uttar Pradesh 375 and 230 for 5 (Kaif 71, Tanmay 66) drew with Punjab 381 and 351 for 9 dec. (Ricky 111*, Charanjit 64, Chawla 4-75)

With Praveen Kumar reinforcing their attack, UP had Punjab at 17 for 3. But Uday Kaul, Pankaj Dharmani and Ravi Inder came up with good rearguard knocks that took them to 381. Raina made another whirlwind century - 123 off 130 balls, Kaif made a quick half-century, but the rest of the batsmen failed again. In a tense battle, which included a 17-run last-wicket partnership between Kumar and Tyagi, UP fell short by six runs. Chasing 358 in less than two sessions, UP gave it a shot but it was too tall an order and had to settle for a draw.

Points at the end of the round: 8

Round 4, v Baroda in Lucknow
Baroda 331 (Parab 71, Praveen Kumar 4-83) and 148 (Gupta 5-35, Chawla 4-49) beat Uttar Pradesh 209 (Raina 55, Yusuf Pathan 5-31) and 225 (Gupta 50*, Yusuf Pathan 4-68, Pawar 3-83) by 48 runs

The first complete failure for Tyagi as Baroda get a challenging total of 334, despite none of their batsmen going on to make a hundred. Their batting failed again, as Yusuf Pathan took five wickets to get Baroda a 125-run first-innings lead. The spin twins, Piyush Chawla and Praveen Gupta, took charge in the second innings, sharing nine wickets between them, bowling Baroda out for 148 and bringing UP back into the contest. When it came down to chasing 274 on a turning track, the UP batting wasn't up to it and despite a 40-run last-wicket stand, fell short by 48 runs.

Points at the end of the round: 8

Round 6, v Bengal in Kolkata
Uttar Pradesh 494 (Praveen Kumar 67, Paul 7-113) beat Bengal 149 (Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3-25, Chawla 3-29)and 193 (Gupta 5-11, Tyagi 4-38) by an innings and 152 runs

Fighting to avoid relegation, they went to Kolkata but were helped by the fact that Bengal, too, needed an outright win desperately. The track was sporting and the UP medium-pacers immediately got into the act. Praveen Kumar, debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Piyush Chawla got three wickets apiece to bowl Bengal out in two sessions. UP batted big, five of them got half-centuries, as they batted Bengal out of the game with a 355-run first-innings lead. Tyagi and Gupta combined to bowl Bengal out cheaply again and secure UP the momentum they would take with them into the knockouts.

Points at the end of the round: 14

Round 7, v Hyderabad in Hyderabad
Uttar Pradesh 336 (Chawla 82, Tanmay Srivastava 81) and 294 for 3 dec. (Kaif 100*, Ravikant Shukla 70*) beat Hyderabad 193 (Chawla 4-50, Gupta 4-55) and 305 (Ravi Teja 133*, Praveen Kumar 6-65) by 132 runs

If they didn't keep their eye on other matches, they would want to come out of the match with an outright win. Batting first, half-centuries from Tanmay Srivastava, Piyush Chawla and Amir Khan took UP to a total in excess of 300 to enable the bowlers to do their thing. Chawla and Gupta took four each and Hyderabad just about avoided the follow-on. Kaif scored an unbeaten century to set Hyderabad an imposing target of 438, and despite a blistering century by Ravi Teja, Praveen Kumar proved to be too good for Hyderabad, and UP threw out all permutations and combinations to finish as group leaders.

Points at the end of the round: 19

Semi-final, v Saurashtra in Vadodara
The liveliest wicket they had played on so far had them seven-down by lunch on day one. Kaif scored 81 on a tough wicket to get UP to 188, which would prove to be a big total. Before stumps on day one, Tyagi, Praveen Kumar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar had taken eight Saurashtra wickets and it was clear the match wouldn't run even half its stipulated duration. On the second day, UP were bowled out for 100, but the 162-run target proved too much for Saurashtra as Praveen Kumar and Tyagi took four wickets each to take UP to the final.

Askash Chopra and Gautam Gambhir were in consistent form through the season for Delhi © Cricinfo Ltd


Round 1, v Rajasthan in Delhi
Delhi 119 (Pankaj 5-43) and 387 (Kohli 106, Manhas 100, Bhatia 83, Pankaj 5-110) beat Rajasthan 85 and 249 (Khoda 71, Bist 69) by 172 runs

On a Manic Monday in Delhi, 20 wickets fell as Delhi were bowled out for 119 and still held a first-innings lead of 34. The medium-pacers all contributed after what seemed a start to another ordinary season for Delhi. Virat Kohli and Mithun Manhas scored centuries in the second innings to set Rajasthan an improbable target of 422. Although the bowlers weren't as emphatic as in the first innings, they did the job to give Delhi a comfortable win.

Points at the end of the round: 5

Round 2, v Saurashtra in Delhi
Delhi 244 (Manhas 62, Jobanputra 5-73) and 295 for 2 dec. (Chopra 124*, Dhawan 114) drew with Saurashtra 213 (Kotak 77, Bhatia 4-16) and 254 for 9 (Pujara 148*, Jobanputra 35, Sangwan 4-70)

Saurashtra bowlers surprised and it was a belligerent half-century by Manhas that took Delhi to 244. Ishant Sharma and Rajat Bhatia, then, took four wickets each to ensure Delhi got a first-innings lead. Aakash Chopra and Shikhar Dhawan drove home the advantage with centuries as Delhi declared their second innings at 295 for 2. On the last day, they had Saurashtra down at 106 for 8 and were looking at an easy win, but Cheteshwar Pujara had other plans. With No. 10 and 11 for company, he frustrated Delhi for 47 overs and secured a draw.

Points at the end of the round: 8

Round 3, v Mumbai in Mumbai
Mumbai 166 (Naik 40, Sangwan 3-38) and 471 for 9 dec (Kukreja 199, Nayar 93, Agarkar 60, Sangwan 5-102) drew with Delhi 251 (Gambhir 89, Salvi 3-44) and 252 for 3 (Gambhir 137*, Chopra 81)

On the first day, Pradeep Sangwan and Sharma took three wickets each to run through the Mumbai batting before Gautam Gambhir scored 89 to secure a first-innings lead for Delhi on a wicket that became easier and easier as the match went on. Sahil Kukreja scored 199 for Mumbai to give them a bit more than a day to bowl Delhi out, but Delhi had too much class in their ranks for that to happen. During the 188-run opening stand between Gambhir and Chopra, it even seemed Delhi might just reach the improbable target of 387. Two wickets in two balls - those of Chopra and Virender Sehwag - and another in the next over laid those notions to rest, and Delhi played out a comfortable draw.

Points at the end of the round: 11

Round 4, v Himachal Pradesh in Dharamsala
Himachal Pradesh 343 (Dogra 81, Bisla 50, Nanda 4-74) and 83 for 5 (Bisla 24*, Ishant Sharma 4-44) drew with Delhi 75 (Malik 6-25, Thakur 4-45) and 482 for 6 dec. (Chopra 215, Gambhir 103)

First a surprise, then a stunner. Himachal scored 343 after being down at 154 for 5, but that was just a thunderstorm when compared to the hurricane that would hit Delhi. In 23.3 overs, a line-up boasting of Gambhir, Chopra, Virender Sehwag and Manhas, was bowled out for 75 runs. Following on, though, Delhi made amends, riding on a double century by Chopra and a century by Gambhir to give Himachal 215 to win. Soon, Sharma wreaked havoc, as Delhi took out five Himachal batsmen in 16.5 overs, but Himachal hung on for the next 18 overs to enforce a draw.

Points at the end of the round: 12

Round 5, v Maharashtra in Nagothane
Delhi 409 (Bhatia 107, Chopra 73, Agharkar 5-85) and 51 for 3 (Agharkar 2-14) beat Maharashtra 219 (Kanitkar 67, Bhatia 5-29) and 240 (Kanitkar 50, Awana 4-62, Nanda 4-70) by seven wickets

Playing the then group leaders Maharashtra, Delhi came up with a professional performance, bowling them out for 219 on the first day. Rajat Bhatia was the chief destructor with his first five-wicket haul in first-class cricket. Bhatia wasn't done yet as he scored a century to ensure Delhi a 190-run lead on a tricky track. When it looked like Maharashtra might set them a testing target on the last day, Parvinder Awana struck with a hat-trick and turned the match in Delhi's favour, who lost three wickets in chasing the 51-run target.

Points at the end of the round: 17

Round 6, v Karnataka in Bangalore
Karnataka 0 for 0 drew with Delhi 538 (Dhawan 148, Kohli 169, Manhas 124)

More frustration for Delhi, but this time of the weather's making, after Kohli, Dhawan and Manhas scored centuries to dominate Karnataka. But as the other contenders in the group moved closer, rain ensured there was little play over the least two days, robbing Delhi of the chance to go for the kill. They had to contend with one point, amid forecasts that it might rain in Chennai, the venue of their last league match, too.

Points at the end of the round: 18

Round 7, v Tamil Nadu in Chennai
Delhi 338 and 105 for 2 (Gambhir 40) beat Tamil Nadu 268 (Vijay 77, Bhatia 3-16) and 174 (Ramkumar 57, Nanda 5-47) by 8 wickets

With what had happened in the other matches, a draw would have been good enough for Delhi to ensure a place in the semi-finals, but they did it in comprehensive style. After bowling Tamil Nadu out for 268, the batsmen all contributed in Delhi getting a 70-run first-innings lead. Gambhir scored a fluent 87 and Chopra and Dhawan chipped in with handy half-centuries too. Chetanya Nanda got into the act in the second innings and took five wickets to dismiss Tamil Nadu cheaply and Delhi got the required 105 runs easily.

Points at the end of the round: 23

Semi-final, v Baroda in Indore
Delhi 271(Manhas 97) and 272 for 3 (Gambhir 132) beat Baroda 199 (Bhandari 4-52, Narwal 4-56) and 342 (Yusuf 113) by seven wickets

With Pradeep Sangwan and Virat Kohli gone to the India Under-19 side playing in South Africa, and Ishant Sharma representing the India senior side in Australia, the biggest challenge for Delhi was to get the pace attack in order. Amit Bhandari and Sumit Narwal, a former Haryana player, responded to the call and took four wickets apiece to bowl Baroda out for 199. Before the end of the first day, Delhi were out down at 5 for 3 themselves, but Mithun Manhas and Aditya Jain helped them recover. Manhas fell short of what would have been his third century of the season, but ensured Delhi got a 72-run first-innings lead.

A solid innings by Rakesh Solanki and a whirlwind 113 off 81 balls by Yusuf Pathan set Delhi a challenging target, and Baroda looked like scripting yet another comeback from a first-innings deficit. A chase of 271 was going to be a tricky one, but Gambhir chose to get there in a dismissive fashion. Gambhir scored 132 off 179 balls as Delhi coasted, despite the absence of Chopra was in the hospital following a nausea attack.