Delhi in strong position

NEW DELHI NOV. 10. When a fielding team thinks more about checking the flow of runs than taking wickets, the batting team invariably gains more than what it had initially bargained for.

Sunday proved to be one such day when Railways' over-defensive ploys helped Delhi opener Gautam Gambhir and two-drop Mithun Manhas to remain in their `comfort-zone' and enable the host enjoy a 14-run cushion at stumps.

With eight first-innings wickets in hand, Delhi is well-placed to try and force an outright verdict in the remaining two days of this four-day Ranji Trophy Elite group `A' match at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground here on Sunday.

After Railways folded up at 205, losing its last three for the addition for just five runs this morning, Gambhir (82 batting, twelve 4s) and Manhas (86, fourteen 4s) came together at 49 for two and raised the Delhi total to 219 when play was called off with 9.3 overs remaining.

Though Delhi lost Akash Chopra and Pradeep Chawla cheaply in the first session, Gambhir and Manhas ensured that Railways went wicketless for the rest of the day. During their unfinished stand of 170 runs, this left-right combination played positively with the right mix of caution and aggression. Eventually, the efforts of Gambhir and Manhas left Railways frustrated.

Once the second session produced 102 runs in 33 overs, Railways chose to be very defensive. The ploy did work but only to a limited extent. In the last extended-session, two well-set batsmen could add only 58 runs from 21.3 overs. However, the Railway bowlers never looked like getting a breakthrough.

Off-spinner Kulamani Parida got noticeable turn from the pitch which seemed to have eased as compared to what one saw on the first day. However, Parida's choice of field-placement and the line of attack, especially for the left-handed Gambhir, was disappointing. If Parida's ploy is a reflection of Railway's somewhat negative designs, then Delhi's not-so-long batting line-up can breath easy on Monday.

Earlier, like the first day, the second, too, started on a very fruitful note for the host. After Railways resumed at 200 for seven, medium pacer Amit Bhandari claimed two wickets off successive deliveries.

At the fall of the ninth wicket, much to the surprise of every one present, Railway skipper Abhay Sharma made light of a broken knuckle to join Harvinder Singh. Abhay, however, was not required to face a single delivery as Arun Singh needed just three deliveries to castle Harvinder.

The scores :

Railways— 1st innings : Shreyas Khanolkar c Abhishek b Sarandeep Singh 68, Amit Pagnis c Dahiya b Arun Singh 1, Abhay Sharma (not out) 1, Tejinder Pal Singh b Rawat 6, Yere Goud c and b Sanghvi 15, Jacob Martin c Bhandari b Arun Singh 56, Raja Ali c Manhas b Abhishek 25, Zakir Hussain b Bhandari 9, Harvinder Singh b Arun Singh 12, Santosh Saxena c Pradeep Chawla b Bhandari 0, Kulamani Parida c Sanghvi b Bhandari 0, Extras (b-1, lb-5, nb-6) 12, Total 205.

Fall of wickets : 1-4, 2-20, 3-57, 4-121, 5-172, 6-183, 7-200, 8-201, 9-201.

Delhi bowling : Amit Bhandari 16-4-20-3, Arun Singh 15.3-4-41-3, Kuldeep Rawat 15-5-40-1, Rahul Sanghvi 16-2-43-1, Sarandeep Singh 15-3-38-1, Abhishek Sharma 8-1-17-1.

Delhi— 1st innings : Akash Chopra lbw b Saxena 28, Gautam Gambhir (batting) 82, Pradeep Chawla c Jacob Martin b Harvinder 1, Mithun Manhas (batting) 86, Extras (b-9, lb-6, w-5, nb-2) 22, Total (for two wickets) 219.

Fall of wickets : 1-47, 2-49.

Railways bowling : Harvinder Singh 20-7-52-1, Zakir Hussain 13-8-18-0, Santosh Saxena 10.3-2-40-1, Kulamani Parida 25-10-52-0, Tejinder Pal Singh 10-3-33-0, Yere Goud 4-0-9-0.

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