Delhi 287 for 1 (Chand 134*, Dhawan 104) v Tamil Nadu
Unmukt Chand is one of many prodigies almost mysteriously produced by Delhi cricket. Now only 19, he has already played 16 first-class games since his debut in 2010. That his second century came in his 17th match brought relief to the young man.
In this Ranji season Chand must, at double speed, graduate from being India's under-19 captain to one of Delhi's more reliable openers. He will bat in worse conditions and face tougher bowling attacks in the future. But his 134 not out against Tamil Nadu on day one at Feroz Shah Kotla was a personal triumph over the more youthful side of his batting and mistakes of his past.
On a slow day, in which only 80 overs were bowled, Delhi ended on 287 for 1 after they were sent in to bat. The lone wicket was that of the captain Shikhar Dhawan but not before he completed his first Ranji Trophy century in a prolific domestic season. Dhawan had already scored more than 600 runs in the Duleep Trophy and the Challenger Trophy.
Dhawan's 104 was a dominant and confident innings but Chand's sparkler of a 134 was as significant. It was an innings that began with Chand being considered the weaker link among the openers but the day ended with an acknowledgement that he was actually growing up.
The first session made the toughest demands on Chand, the ball swinging as it is expected to. Chand was judicious in picking what to leave and also checked himself from launching into a few of his eye-catching strokes. The off side was packed, there were two wide gullies, and it took him 12 balls to get off the mark.
The first hour brought a total of 28 runs to Delhi and Chand had a streaky half-chance off J Kaushik go past a diving third slip. Shouts came from the boundary asking him to be patient. Patience took its time arriving, and Chand slashed Kaushik again to the point boundary.
As the ball lost its shine and zip heading into lunch, and the sun began to climb, the Delhi batsmen opened their shoulders. Chand hit three boundaries in an over from L Balaji, through mid-on and cover and a screaming cut through point.
Dhawan seized control of the innings after the first hour, and at the first sight of spin, the batsmen lit up. Offspinner M Rangarajan was hit out of the attack after five overs that cost 27 runs. Chand turned the strike over to the more experienced Dhawan and then, by hitting the hard working left-arm spinner Aushik Srinivas for six over long off, spread the field.
It took Chand 102 balls and nine boundaries to get to his 50. The next 50 took 64 balls, but offered fewer chances with six fours and a six. "We were able to stick to the messages we got from the dressing room," Chaid said. No losing early wickets, and capitalising in the post-lunch session. As his 100 neared and Delhi lost Dhawan, Chand went from 95 to 100 in singles. "I had got tempted to score quickly in the past when on 93 and 86 and the thought came in my mind that I should not repeat the same mistake."
Delhi had lost the toss but they made only gains after that. The pitch was different from the previous drawn game against Baroda, but had they won the toss, Dhawan said with a grin that Delhi would have loved to bat.