Kolkata: Medium pacer Ashok Dinda rocked the Delhi top-order before half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Rajat Bhatia helped them reach 252 for eight after the first day’s play in their Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match, here today.
At stumps, Bhatia was batting on 59 along with Manoj Chauhan (6) with Dinda taking his wicket-tally of the season to 25 with figures of 4/55.
Left-arm spinner Iresh Saxena (2/37) had a fine second spell to help Bengal stage a comeback in the last session, breaking an 81-run sixth wicket partnership between Bhatia and Punit Bisht (40), the leading Delhi run-getter this season.
Delhi, who need an outright victory to have a chance of qualifying, were without their pace spearhead Ashish Nehra as the former India seamer decided to rest following back-to-back four day matches.
The match is equally crucial for Bengal who also need a victory to come out of the relegation zone.
Bengal (5 points) have one more match against Baroda, while for fourth-placed Delhi (10) this is their last league fixture.
Put into bat, Delhi had a jittery start when Dinda’s fiery first spell (8-4-11-2) in which he took two wickets in the 11th over reduced the visitors to 30 for two.
Debutant medium-pacer Veer Pratap Singh (1/49), drafted in place of veteran Ranadeb Bose, bowled with a lot of promise as he scalped skipper Mithun Manhas (18) with Delhi struggling for 60/3.
But India discard Dhawan (76 from 143 balls,10×4) remained vigilant at the crease as he along with Yogesh Nagar (30) put on crucial 69 runs for the fourth wicket.
Before the duo could put on a big partnership, Dinda gave another breakthrough in the eighth over after lunch when a fine low catch by Subhamoy Das at gully cut short Nagar’s innings.
Dhawan, was soon dismissed by Laxmi Ratan Shukla when the southpaw edged one to Arindam Das in the slips.
But a dogged innings from Bhatia tested Bengal’s patience as he along with Puneet Bisht added 81 crucial runs for the sixth wicket.
Just before Delhi could do a Tamil Nadu — when the latter recovered from 140/5 to 391 before humiliating Bengal by 10 wickets in the last match — left-arm spinner Saxena enticed Bisht with flight to give the breakthrough in the eighth over after tea.
The Delhi wicketkeeper batsman, fresh from an unbeaten 223 against Baroda, threw away his wicket when he stepped out but only to hit straight at mid-off.
Saxena (11-3-30-2) capped a fine second spell taking Pradeep Sangwan as Dinda took his fourth wicket in Kuldeep Rawat to help for a fightback by Bengal, desperate for a victory to escape relegation.
Delhi had to make three changes to their line-up as Kuldeep Rawat came in place of Nehra, while Anukur Julka replaced Milind Kumar and offie Manoj Chauhan was brought in place of an indisposed Vikas Mishra.
A DDCA official said he was unaware of Nehra’s unavailability.
“Nehra informed the skipper last night that he would not be available for the match as we had to go with the other medium pacer,” he said.
Delhi 252/8 (Shikhar Dhawan 76, Rajat Bhatia 59 batting. Ashok Dinda 4/55, Iresh Saxena 2/37)
Marathe helps Mumbai reach 203-3 on day one (Lucknow): Sushant Marathe cracked a brilliant century and added 189 runs for the opening wicket with Kaustubh Pawar to help Mumbai reach 203 for three against Uttar Pradesh on the first day of their Ranji Trophy Elite Group A match here today.
Marathe scored 102 in 163 balls studded with 15 fours, while Pawar hit a patient 76 off 191 balls, laced with 10 boundaries at Dr Akhilesh Das Stadium here to give Mumbai a rollicking start.
Mumbai 203/3 (Kaustubh Pawar 76, Shashank Marathe 102. Bhuvnesh 2/64, Chawla 1/40)
Tons by Saxena, Yadav propel Rajasthan to 369 for 7 (Jaipur): Riding on superb centuries by Vineet Saxena (127) and Puneet Yadav (108), defending champions Rajasthan reached 369 for seven against Saurashtra on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy Elite Division Group A match here today.
Saurashtra’s decision to put the hosts in to bat first paid rich dividend as Rajasthan lost opener Aakash Chopra (6), skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar (27), in-form Robin Bisht (22) and Rashmi Ranjan Parida (3) cheaply to find themselves reeling at 103 for 4 at one stage.
Rajasthan 369/7 (Vineet Saxena 127, Puneet Yadav 108. Siddharth Trivedi 4/69)
Punjab make strong start against Karnataka (Bangalore): Half centuries by Sarul Kanwar (89), Karan Goel (71) and Mayank Sidhana (batting 61) helped Punjab reach 278 for four and steal the honours on Day One of their Elite Group Ranji Trophy match against Karnataka here today.
Opting to bat, Punjab, who are seeking to augment their position to notch a berth in the quarter-finals, lost a well-set Goel just before draw of stumps at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.
Punjab 278/4 (Sarul Kanwar 89, Goel 71).
Ojha century takes MP to 278/3 on Day One against Haryana (Rohtak): Naman Ojha cracked his second successive century with a strokeful 160 to put Madhya Pradesh in a strong position on 278 for three on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy Elite Division match against Haryana today.
The wicketkeeper and opening batsman smashed 22 fours and five sixes during his 160-run knock, which he made from 226 balls after Madhya Pradesh elected to bat at Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium here.
Madhya Pradesh: 278/3 (Naman Ojha 160. Harshal Patel 2/41)
Railways crawl to 204 for five against Orissa (New Delhi): Opener Shivakant Shukla missed three-figure mark by only four runs but his painfully slow batting alongside skipper Sanjay Bangar saw Railways crawl to 204 for five against Orissa, on the first day in a Ranji Trophy ELite Group match at Karnail Singh Stadium.
Having scored 94 runs in 34 overs during the first session, the home team suddenly went into a shell scoring only 110 runs in the next 56 overs.
Railways 204/5 (Shuvakant Shukla 96, Sanjay Bangar 46. Biplab Samantray 2/32)
Mukund, Badrinath tons take TN to 283/2 on day 1 (Ahmedabad): Abhinav Mukund and Subramaniam Badrinath smashed centuries as Tamil Nadu put themselves in a commanding position by reaching 283 for two on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy Elite Division match against Gujarat here today.
Opener Mukund remained not out on 150, which he made from 264 balls and with the help of 24 boundaries, while Badrinath scored 102 from 214 balls and with the help of 14 fours.
Tamil Nadu 283/2(Abhinav Mukund 150*, S Badrinath 102. Ishwar Chaudhary 2/61)