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GRITTY EFFORT: Delhi’s Gaurav Chhabra played a masterful knock under pressure to deny Tamil Nadu the lead in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
GRITTY EFFORT: Delhi’s Gaurav Chhabra played a masterful knock under pressure to deny Tamil Nadu the lead in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

Special Correspondent

Chhabra hits maiden first-class century

NEW DELHI: In a remarkable fightback, Delhi, riding on the strength of a collective assault, beat Tamil Nadu on the basis of the first innings lead to set up a semifinal clash with Mumbai in Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy.

A maiden first-class century by Gaurav Chhabra and brilliant contributions from Rajat Bhatia (94) and Puneet Bisht (75) stopped Tamil Nadu in its tracks at the Palam ground here on Sunday.

Delhi resumed at 294 for four, needing 170 to take the lead, with Bhatia (67) and Chhabra (32) carrying the home team’s hopes. Delhi declared at 490 for eight. Tamil Nadu was 27 for no loss when play was called off.

Tamil Nadu clearly held the advantage on Sunday morning but was let down by its bowlers. They proved woefully ineffective.

“Any team that chases 463 deserves the credit. The Delhi batsmen applied themselves very well. We got two big early wickets (Aakash Chopra and Shikhar Dhawan) but the rest hung in well. We were well and truly beaten,” said a gracious Tamil Nadu coach W.V. Raman.

Disciplined partnership

Chhabra and Bhatia put on 122 runs for the fifth wicket in a disciplined partnership before the Delhi skipper ran himself out to a direct throw by C. Ganapathy from mid-on.

It was a suicidal run out by Bhatia who made 94 off 243 balls with ten fours. Delhi was 107 adrift when Bisht joined Chhabra. Tamil Nadu was riding high and understandably too. Even though Bisht, with two centuries this season, was confident, the 23-year-old Chhabra felt the pressure.

“The pressure was obvious but I remembered what my skipper told me. Just hang in and don’t think about the target. We were not sure this morning but we were confident. The plan was to tackle it ball by ball and I knew Puneet was in great form. Things fell into place because of Rajat and Puneet,” said Chhabra, who batted 246 balls for his 100 with 12 fours before he was trapped leg-before with the target 12 runs away. But there were no more alarms as Bisht, who played with a purpose, finished the job in style with a square-driven boundary. His 75 had 11 fours and one six off 119 balls.

The scores: Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: 463.

Delhi — 1st innings: A. Chopra lbw b Ashwin 10, S. Dhawan b Sutheesh 17, A. Jain lbw b Mukund 76, M. Manhas c Ganapathy b Srinivas 76, R. Bhatia (run out) 94, G. Chhabra lbw b Ashwin 100, P. Bisht c Badrinath b Anirudha 75, S. Narwal c Sushil b Srinivas 2, P. Sangwan (not out) 10, P. Awana (not out) 3, Extras (b-9, lb-14, nb-4) 27, Total (for eight wickets decl in 180 overs) 490.

Fall of wickets: 1-31, 2-33, 3-167, 4-254, 5-356, 6-452, 7-459, 8-482.

Tamil Nadu bowling: C. Ganapathy 21-9-55-0, L. Balaji 28-6-80-0, R. Ashwin 62-15-116-2, R. Sutheesh 13-2-65-1, A. Srinivas 44-15-100-2, A. Mukund 7-0-20-1, S. Badrinath 2-1-13-0, M. Vijay 2-0-12-0, S. Anirudha 1-0-6-1.

Tamil Nadu — 2nd innings: R. Ashwin (not out) 11, U. Sushil (not out) 11, Extras (w-5) 5, Total (for no loss in 10 overs) 27.

Delhi bowling: Bhatia 5-1-17-0, Jain 5-3-10-0.

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