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Incisive spell by Sunil Dholpure

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, DEC. 4. Like on the first day against Railways in the previous match here, Delhi encountered another batting debacle against Madhya Pradesh. It now hopes for some responsible batting from its bowlers to escape embarrassment in the crucial Ranji Trophy Elite Group match at the Jamia Millia ground here on Saturday.

Electing to bat, Delhi lifted itself from 104 for five to finish the opening day at 212 for seven. Sarandeep Singh, the man who had kept Ajay Jadeja's company in the fighting century stand against Railways, once again showed the grit to stay firm. He is unbeaten on 31 with Rahul Sanghvi for company.

The home team, which could not prepare the `green top' pitch to the liking of its bowlers, left it to its batsmen to post a huge first innings total. But the inconsistency of the top-order continued to upset its plans.

Five of Delhi's batsmen — Akash Chopra, Shikhar Dhawan, Mithun Manhas, Ajay Jadeja and Vijay Dahiya — failed to capitalise on good starts on a pitch that lacked bounce. But all credit to the M.P. bowlers, particularly medium pacers Sunil Dholpure and Sanjay Pandey, for leaving Delhi worried.

Playing only his second match, Dholpure sent back four of the top-five Delhi batsmen following a fine exhibition of swing bowling. The 25-year-old from Indore had taken five wickets against Mumbai on debut last month.

Today, Dholpure was rewarded for maintaining a disciplined line. After providing the breakthrough by getting Shikhar Dhawan caught at third slip, Dholpure foxed Rajat Bhatia with a perfectly pitched outswinger that ended as a catch at second slip.

A well-set Mithun Manhas failed to read a swinging delivery from Dholpure and offered a regulation catch to the wicketkeeper and off the very next ball Abhinav Bali fell leg-before to an in-cutter with Delhi gasping at 96 for four.

Eight runs later, Akash Chopra's patient stay of over three hours ended with Pandey trapping him leg-before wicket.

Good partnership

Delhi's plight could have been worse if Abbas Ali had held on to low catch offered by Jadeja off Pandey. At this stage, Jadeja was on three with Delhi tottering at 107 for five.

Jadeja, who had helped Delhi fight back against Railways with an unbeaten half century, rode his luck and raised 51 runs in the company of Vijay Dahiya before Abbas made amends to send him back.

Dahiya, poised to take the team to a respectable total, looked comfortable during his 161-minute essay before spooning an easy catch at mid-on in his attempt to punish off-spinner Jitender Likhar.

M.P. skipper Amay Khurasiya was pleased by the performance of his bowlers but added that Delhi was allowed to score 30 runs too many.

"After getting rid of half the side for just over 100 runs, we should not have let them score past 200. But overall, I still think we did very well."

The scores:

Delhi — 1st innings: A. Chopra lbw b Pandey 37, S. Dhawan c Sachin Dholpure b Sunil Dholpure 29, R. Bhatia c Abbas Ali b Sunil Dholpure 0, M. Manhas c Ojha b Sunil Dholpure 26, A. Bali lbw b Sunil Dholpure 0, A. Jadeja c Abbas Ali b Pandey 26, V. Dahiya c Sunil Dholpure b Likhar 32, Sarandeep Singh (batting) 31, R. Sanghvi (batting) 7, Extras (lb-6, nb-18) 24, Total (for seven wkts) 212.

Fall of wickets: 1-46, 2-50, 3-96, 4-96, 5-104, 5-155, 6-193.

Madhya Pradesh bowling: Sanjay Pandey 22-4-74-2, Sunil Dholpure 20-7-50-4, Devendra Bundela 20-6-27-0, Jitendra Likhar 10-2-15-1, Narendra Hirwani 16-3-40-0.

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