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MP sitting pretty

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, DEC. 5. After embarrassing Mumbai last month, Madhya Pradesh has created an opportunity to extend a similar treatment to Delhi.

At the half way stage of the four-day Ranji Trophy Elite group tie, the visiting team reached 207 for four in reply to Delhi's 239 at the Jamia Millia ground here on Sunday.

MP skipper Amay Khurasiya and Devendra Bundela put together a 115-run third-wicket stand and added to Delhi's frustration. At stumps, Bundela was on 63 with an in-form Nikhil Patwardhan on 14.

Delhi began the day on the wrong foot and never really got going. Before Delhi could resume its innings at 212 for seven, medium-pacer Sanjay Gill twisted his ankle while playing volleyball and stayed away from action. This was a double blow for Delhi. It's innings ended with the fall of the ninth wicket and thereafter, Gill was not available to share the new ball with Amit Bhandari.

After MP medium-pacer Sanjay Pandey struck twice to end Delhi's innings, the visiting batsmen treated Bhandari and off-spinner Sarandeep Singh with disdain for the better part of the day.

Opener Sachin Dholpure, fresh from scoring 107 and 52 against Karnataka, went after Bhandari and hit him for five boundaries before offering a catch at short extra-over. In the next over, Naman Ojha fell leg-before to Bhandari after hitting two boundaries in an over from Rajat Bhatia.

The fall of these two wickets just before lunch raised Delhi's expectations but the home team had not reckoned with the calculated assault launched by Khurasiya and Bundela. Before the pair settled down, Delhi had two chances to send back Khurasiya. When the elegant left-hander was on 13, a sharp chance eluded Abhinav Bali at second slip off Bhandari. Again, on 20, Khurasiya survived when Akash Chopra faltered at first slip off Jadeja.

Khurasiya, known for his explosive batting and ruthless execution, went on to collect runs with ease. He hit a six over extra cover off Sarandeep Singh and six boundaries during his 116-ball stay. Before falling leg-before to a delivery from Jadeja that came a little slowly off the pitch, Khurasiya had done enough damage to Delhi's aspirations in this game.

At the other end, Bundela was less flashy but equally purposeful. Still the right-hander managed to keep pace with Khurasiya for the first 40 runs. Though he lost the company of his captain and Abbas Ali in quick succession, Bundela kept his eyes on what can well be his 12th century in the championship. Remember, Bundela cracked a match-saving unbeaten 139 against Mumbai last fortnight.

The scores:

Delhi_1st innings: Akash Chopra lbw b Pandey 37, Shikhar Dhawan c Sachin Dholpure b Sunil Dholpure 29, Rajat Bhatia c Abbas Ali b Sunil Dholpure 0, Mithun Manhas c Ojha b Sunil Dholpure 26, Abhinav Bali lbw b Sunil Dholpure 0, Ajay Jadeja c Abbas Ali b Pandey 26, Vijay Dahiya c Sunil Dholpure b Likhar 32, Sarandeep Singh c Khurasiya b Pandey 37, Rahul Sanghvi (not out) 11, Amit Bhandari c Likhar b Pandey 11, Sanjay Gill (did not bat), Extras (b-4, lb-7, nb-19) 30, Total 239.

Fall of wickets: 1-46, 2-50, 3-96, 4-96, 5-104, 6-155, 7-193, 8-223, 9-239.

Madhya Pradesh bowling: Sanjay Pandey 25.4-6-83-4, Sunil Dholpure 24-8-63-4, Devendra Bundela 20-6-27-0, Jitendra Likhar 10-2-15-1, Narendra Hirwani 16-3-40-0.

Madhya Pradesh_1st innings: Sachin Dholpure c Manhas b Bhatia 28, Naman Ojha lbw b Bhandari 25, Amay Khurasiya lbw b Jadeja 61, Devendra Bundela (batting) 63, Abbas Ali c Jadeja b Sanghvi 4, Nikhil Patwardhan (batting) 14, Extras (b-3, nb-9) 12, Total (for four wkts.) 207.

Fall of wickets: 1-56, 2-56, 3-171, 4-178.

Delhi bowling: Amit Bhandari 18-5-56-1, Rajat Bhatia 15-7-25-1, Ajay Jadeja 12-3-25-1, Rahul Sanghvi 16-2-41-1, Sarandeep Singh 13-1-53-0, Abhinav Bali 1-0-4-0.

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