Bengal did well on the opening day of the four-day Ranji Trophy Elite group ‘B' league match restricting Delhi to 252 for eight at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday.
But for opener Shikhar Dhawan's 76, his 21st first class half-century, and Rajat Bhatia's unbeaten 59, his 22nd half-century, Delhi would have been in real trouble as Ashok Dinda, bowling a good line and length with pace, picked up four wickets for 55 runs to emerge the second highest wicket-taker of the season with 25 scalps.
Only Delhi's Parvinder Awana is ahead of Dinda by one wicket though he is yet to bowl in this game.
Sourav Ganguly won the toss and asked Delhi to bat first on a wicket that had enough life. Dinda had an excellent first spell but his partner Shami Ahmed wasted the new ball thus allowing the openers Dhawan and Unmukt Chand to put on 30 runs.
Chand was distinctly uncomfortable against Dinda and he fell for 11 miss-timing a pull off a ball that came a shade quicker on him. Veer Pratap Singh, making his debut, took an easy catch at square leg.
Four balls later Ankur Julka was trapped leg before by Dinda as Delhi slumped to 30 for two in 11 overs. Captain Mithun Manhas too did not last long but helped Dhawan to add 30 runs to the third wicket.
As Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Veer Pratap came on to bowl, Dhawan began to produce shots of high calibre especially against Veer Pratap. After Manhas (14) was let off by Manoj Tiwary at second slip, a waist high edge off Veer Pratap, the same bowler got him to a pull shot. Delhi went into the lunch at 103 for three in35 overs with Dhawan completing his half century in 148 minutes off 94 balls with eight fours.
Delhi's best phase of the innings was provided by Bhatia and wicketkeeper Punit Bisht. Bhatia was full of confidence as drove and pulled the loose ones. This wicket put on 81 runs in 20.2 overs and looked like taking Delhi to a position of strength when left-arm spinner Iresh Saxena forced Bisht to drive a ball which was held back a shade. Ahmed at mid-off brought off a comfortable catch.
Delhi – 1st innings: Unmukt Chand c Singh b Dinda 11, Shikhar Dhawan c Das b Shukla 76, Ankur Julka lbw b Dinda 0, Mithun Manhas c Goswami b Pratap 18, Yogesh Nagar c S. Das b Dinda 30, Rajat Bhatia (batting) 59, Puneet Bisht c Ahmed b Saxena 40, Kuldeep Rawat lbw b Dinda 0, Pradeep Sangwan c Porel b Saxena 4, Manoj Chauhan (batting) 6; Extras (lb-2, nb-1, w-5): 8; Total (for nine in 80.3 overs): 252.
Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-30, 3-60, 4-129, 5-147, 6-228, 7-229, 8-234.
Bengal bowling: Ashok Dinda 22.3-5-55-4, Shami Ahmed 17-5-61-0, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 17-5-42-1, Veer Pratap Singh 10-1-49-1, Iresh Saxena 12-3-37-2, Sourav Ganguly 1-0-1-0, Manoj Tiwary 1-0-5-0.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy