DELHI : If the first day’s proceedings are anything to go by, Delhi look set to give Gautam Gambhir a memorable send-off against Andhra in their Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match being played at Feroz Shah Kotla. Opting to bowl first, the Dhruv Shorey-led team began brightly before the Andhra lower-order, led by the in-form Ricky Bhui (150 n.o), came back into the contest, eventually ending Day 1 on 266/7.
Winning an important toss, Shorey tried to make the most of the morning conditions with the help of his pacers. It was right-arm speedster Suboth Bhati (5/35) who put his hand up to set the ball rolling for the hosts. Playing his first first-class game in two years, he dismissed opener DB Prasanth Kumar for nought in the very first over of the day. In his next over, he trapped No 3 NJ Sai Krishna leg-before for another duck. The scoreboard read 6/2.
The visitors tried to bring things under control but Bhati struck again, dismissing Andhra’s star player Srikar Bharat (17). Bharat was a part of the India A squad on their tour of New Zealand. The visitors were reduced to 35/3 in 10.4 overs. Left-arm orthodox Vikas Mishra joined the party by cleaning up skipper B Sumanth for just 2. Just when it looked like Andhra would sink, three consecutive partnerships of more than 50 runs followed as the team recovered. Bhui and rookie batsman P Girinath Reddy (29) combined to add 74 runs for the fifth wicket. After a lull of more than 20 overs, Bhati came back to induce an edge from Reddy that went straight to wicketkeeper Anuj Rawat.
Bhui then combined with B Siva Charan Singh (27) to accumulate 66 runs for the sixth wicket. Singh was done in by off-spinner Lalit Yadav in the 63rd over to make it 188/6 for Andhra. Karn Sharma (31) was the next man in, and along with Bhui, the duo added 77 runs for the seventh wicket. Sharma almost made it through the day, but Bhati had other plans. In the penultimate over of the day, the 28-year-old forced an edge off the former Vidarbha player’s bat that landed in Rawat’s gloves.
While Andhra will be content with the rescue act, the Delhi camp would be grinning from ear to ear, considering the performance their inexperienced bowling attack put forward. With three more wickets left, and Bhui (who has hit 19 fours and a six till now) at the crease, Andhra will look to garner as many runs as possible to give their bowlers room to work with.
Himachal 244/5 vs Punjab
In another Group B match in Chandigarh, Himachal were 244/5 against Punjab at the close of play on Day 1. Nikhil Gangta (58), Ankit Kalsi (50 batting) and Rishi Dhwan (61) scored half-centuries. Praveen Thakur was out for 44. Kalsi and Dhawan added 96 for the fifth wicket. For Punjab, Siddarth Kaul and Sanvir Singh took two wickets each. Having beaten Delhi in their previous match, Punjab have nine points from three matches. Himachal are placed last in the nine-team group with just two points from three.