Saturday, November 29, 2008

Twenty four wickets fall on Day One at Kotla

Ishant Sharma ran in with purpose and bowled with fire, just as Delhi would have liked their star bowler to do. On a pitch tailor-made for his ilk, the pace bowler grabbed a career-best seven for 24 to save Delhi the embarrassment of conceding a huge lead in their Ranji Trophy Elite Super League match against Orissa at the Feroz Shah Kotla here.

Needing a victory desperately, Delhi prepared a green-top pitch that would guarantee a result, but on being asked to bat first, they were skittled out for a mere 78. However, Sharma, supported at best by some miserly bowling from the other end, ripped through the top order to restrict the opposition to 80.

Delhi captain Virender Sehwag was battling on 27 as Delhi finished the opening day at 38 for four in their second innings, just 36 ahead with six wickets in hand. On a windy day that saw most batsmen being bowled, caught behind or leg-before wicket if not trying a desperate shot, Sharma sent the wickets cartwheeling five times.

Former Test opener Shiv Sundar Das and P Jayachandra were among those castled by huge incoming deliveries from the beanpole, the fielders anticipating the sweet sound of ball hitting the timber and enjoying scurry to fetch the dislodged bails from far off.

Sharma, who had just two first-class five-wicket hauls prior to this match including one in a Test against Pakistan at Bangalore last year, did his best after the team management decided to play aggressively after getting back the services of their star players.

Gautam Gambhir though proved to be a big let down for the home side, getting a ‘pair’, facing only two balls in each innings. Sehwag was run out in the first innings with a top score of 17 and batted with defiance in the second to keep Delhi’s hopes alive.

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