Delhi hit back on second day
Delhi 89 for 1 (Kohli 51*) trail Bengal 473 (Das 156, Tiwary 69, Lahiri 68*, Goswami 68) by 384 runs
Delhi seized control over its territory on Tuesday, playing the second day of their Ranji Trophy-opener as if it were the first. Clouds gathered around the Kotla, their bowlers ran in and made the ball seam, swing and cut. They scythed through the Bengal middle order, and the visitors ended up on with a shrunken 473 all out after starting the day on 313-2. A flashy show of intent from Virat Kohli (51* off 78, 9x4) ensured that Delhi go in at 89-1. After a tepid first day, the game is finally afoot.
A different Delhi bowling attack turned out this morning, and they wanted to bowl quick nowhere else but at the Kotla. They did several things differently, maximising the use of the new ball by bowling a smarter and fuller length than they had the previous day. The track, then, seemed to rise from the dead - batsmen played and missed and the wicketkeeper took the ball at a height that would hearten bowlers.
The new ball was handed over to Parvinder Awana, who showed that he is made of the rare stuff - a new-ball bowler with the energy of a middle-overs workhorse. He broke through the 124-run third wicket partnership, getting one to dart through the gap between Arindam Das' bat and pad.
It was Sumit Narwal's second spell of the morning, though, that produced the passage of impact. Narwal set up batsmen with outswingers and then baffled them with the one coming in, counting on the wicket to keep them shuffling. That was how he got rid of the dangerous Manoj Tiwary (69, 121balls, 9x4), before he had Anustup Majumdar edging one that moved late. Narwal then produced an Enrique Iglesias-style "I-Like-It" moment for the highlights package: getting one to pitch on middle to Laxmi Ratan Shukla before it ended up uprooting leg-stump.
At 357 for 6, Bengal's time looked up but as the shine wore off, allrounder Saurasish Lahiri (68 off 122, 10x4, 1x6) took control of the innings and pulled his partner Wriddhiman Saha along for the ride in 98-run seventh-wicket partnership. Delhi believe they have conceded 60 runs extra, coach Manoj Prabhakar even emerging after the game to indicate that the new ball used by his bowlers today had been much kinder to Delhi than what they worked with the day before.
In the second over of the match, the SG ball was changed by the umpires and in response to a question always raised about the SG, Bengal coach WV Raman asked, "If I want the Reader [a type of cricket ball], will I get it?" Raman did believe that though his own side had lost ground, a lead of 380 was enough to manage with.
In Delhi's innings, Kohli made his spiked-hair-dark-glasses-foul-mouthed-bad-boy image appear a meaningless extra that deserves to be overlooked if only to see the quality of the batsman that breathes underneath. He showed Ashok Dinda's early line some respect before lashing Ranadeb Bose with a square drive that was one of the highlights of his innings.
It was an eventful day for Kohli who had earlier got into an argument with umpire Shamsuddin about a leg-before appeal against Tiwary. Later, when Kohli was on 31, Ashok Dinda tumbled over to his left and thought he'd pulled off a return catch but Kohli stood his ground, convinced that the bowler had grassed it. It was Shamsuddin who checked the dismissal and let the batsman continue. The only bowler who tied Kohli down was Lahiri but he was, quite illogically, taken off the attack after three overs.
Kohli's partner Shikhar Dhawan found his feet at a far slower rate, but Prabhakar will be wagging his finger at them in the dressing room. "Confidence, I agree, is a good thing but over-confidence is not," he said. The coach's expectations for Wednesday are simple. The two set batsmen, he said, would have to take Delhi to between 200 and 250. Of everyone in the Delhi side, if Bengal had to pick two in touch with their over-confident side, it would have to be the two men who will walk out first on Wednesday.
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at Cricinfo