Shalabh Srivastava's heroic effort guided Vidarbha to a tough draw against Delhi even as the two sides started the New Year with a disheartening note by narrowly missing out on quarterfinal berths in the Ranji Trophy.
The disappointment was bigger for Delhi as it was all set to book a place in the last eight. However, Karnataka's sensational outright win over Maharashtra robbed Delhi of the opportunity to play in the knockout stage.
After the drawn last round Group B encounter at the VCA Stadium here on Tuesday, Delhi added three points to its kitty on the basis of gaining the first innings and took its overall tally to 20 points from eight outings.
Delhi stood the chance of advancing to the next level as it had better run quotient than Vidarbha, which also finished with 20 points after collecting a point from here.
The only consolation for Vidarbha was that it did not suffer an outright defeat in the whole season. Srivastava’s brave innings saved Vidarbha’s blushes at home. It was a fantastic effort from the Delhi bowlers, who bowled tight lines, maintained the intensity and did not allow the Vidarbha batsmen to ease from the confining pressure. Shiv Sundar Das departed in the fifth over of the day and Amol Ubarhande and Faiz Fazal got out after showing some resistance as the host took lunch at 54 for three.
Srivastava (80 not out, 233b, 16x4) along with the seasoned Hemang Badani (26, 87b, 3x4, 1x6) stayed together for nearly one and half hours to give some hope to Vidarbha in the second session.
The post-lunch contest between Sumit Narwal and Srivastava was fascinating. In one over, Narwal fired in a toe-crushing yorker and followed it up with a well-directed bouncer. An unruffled Srivastava, who survived consecutive appeals, replied with an effortless boundary off his legs in the next ball.
The 26-year-old, who was dropped by Unmukt Chand at 31 off Narwal, showed his strong character and sound skills to curtail his strokes and play with purpose. He won loud applauses for his well-executed boundaries, including three in one Sangwan over, on his favourite legside.
Gaurav Upadhayay (47, 76b, 9x4) gave Srivastava good company and the duo gathered 77 runs in quick time. Vidarbha was heading towards a smooth draw when Upadhyay played a loose shot. That invited trouble as Vidarbha lost two more wickets in quick succession and allowed Delhi to press for a win.
Srivastava mentored Amol Jungade well and the pair held its nerve to see off the tiring Delhi bowlers.
The scores: Delhi — 1st innings: 523 for nine decl.
Vidarbha — 1st innings: 257.
Vidarbha — 2nd innings: Faiz Fazal c Bisht b Mishra 21, Shiv Sundar Das c Bisht b Sangwan 1, Amol Ubarhande c Bisht b Narwal 4, Shalabh Srivastava (not out) 80, Hemang Badani c Dhawan b Sangwan 26, Gaurav Upadhyay c Sangwan b Mishra 47, Sairaj Bahutule c Dhawan b Mishra 0, Shreekant Wagh c (sub) Milind b Tokas 4, Amol Jungade (not out) 5; Extras (b-10, lb-5, nb-13): 28; Total (for seven wkts. in 96 overs): 216.
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-26, 3-48, 4-107, 5-184, 6- 184, 7-199.
Delhi bowling: Sumit Narwal 21-8-44-1, Vikas Mishra 22-15-26-3, Rajat Bhatia 10-7-20-0, Pradeep Sangwan 21-6-57-2, Vikas Tokas 15-6-34-1, Mohit Sharma 3-0-14-0, Vaibhav Rawal 4-2-6-0.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy