Gambhir scores century in draw

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)

A match that had swung first one way, then another, ended in a draw on a day that had its own twists. Delhi began the day needing a further 328 to beat Mumbai and set off down that path, inspired by Gautam Gambhir, before a short, sharp burst from Aavishkar Salvi - two wickets in two balls - after lunch stopped them in their tracks. Delhi reached 252 for 3 when the captains agreed to call off the game just before the mandatory overs were to start.

The first session belonged to Delhi's openers. Gambhir and Aakash Chopra played by the book, circumspect in the first hour before opening up. Mumbai's erratic bowling display didn't improve matters and their problems were compounded by the benign pitch. Gambhir had made 80 and Chopra was one run behind as Delhi took lunch with the target in their sights - they required a further 212 from the remaining 52 overs.

However, just as Pradeep Sangwan had done on Sunday, Salvi, who has been fighting injuries and bad form after peaking in 2003, came into his own after lunch and bowled with pace and consistency. He got the ball to move away from Chopra and Gambhir and was unlucky not to get a wicket as both batsmen swished and missed a few times. He was rewarded when Chopra, trying to defend on the up, failed to get his bat down to one that came in after pitching on good length. In came Sehwag and out he went; Salvi hit the same length as the previous delivery and the ball angled in, faster this time, and that was enough to catch the Delhi captain plumb in front.

Mumbai's players suddenly had a spring in their step and Abhishek Nayar soon increased the excitement by trapping Virat Kohli in front of middle stump. From 188 for 0, Delhi had slipped to 189 for 3; in a matter of minutes the balance had shifted towards Mumbai.

In the middle of all this Gambhir was treading the nervous nineties. Nayar had denied him a century in the first innings by getting him lbw when on 89. Gambhir was patient now, his primary responsibility was to bat for time given that Delhi had suddenly lost the momentum. He reached 99 with an on-drive off Nayar for his first boundary after lunch but couldn't manage a run for the next 22 balls, including three maiden overs from Ajit Agarkar who tested him with pace and movement. But Gambhir finally got the monkey off his back with a single off Powar to mid-off and repeatedly pointed towards the dressing room to show his relief.

Through the match Gambhir had had exchanges with a few Mumbai players but he showed his the other side of his temperament by staying at the wicket when all around him, on both teams, were losing their head.

The match had now become a contest in the mind. Mumbai's only intention was to defend at all costs and their bowlers, especially Ramesh Powar and Bhavesh Patel, had no qualms bowling a negative line. Gambhir and Mithun Manhas tried to force the issue initially, but settled down after a while.

Seven overs after tea, with Delhi needing a further 134 from 15 overs, both captains decided to abandon the contest. Delhi took three points on the basis of the first-innings lead while Mumbai got a solitary point for the draw. At the end of the third round, Mumbai have nine points while Delhi have 11.

Based on the quality of the teams a much more intense contest was expected of these two traditional rivals. Instead several big names on both sides, including Ajit Agarkar, Rohit Sharma, Ramesh Powar, Amol Muzumdar, Virender Sehwag, and Ishant Sharma failed to rise to the occasion.