Dec 172012

Maharashtra 3 for 0 and 196 (Bawne 58, Narwal 3-35) lead Delhi 193 (Rawal 65, Fallah 5-67, Dhumal 3-32) by six runsScorecard

Delhi needed two wins to give themselves a chance at squeezing into the Ranji knockouts. But at the Roshanara Club, they were far from a dominant position to force the win against Maharashtra. An unheralded bowling attack on a wicket that is made for accuracy and length had Delhi all out for 193 late into the second day. At stumps, Maharashtra were 3 for no loss.

In theory, Delhi can still win the match, as two innings have been completed and two days of play remain. Maharashtra’s first innings lasted just over 55 overs, and Delhi’s more lauded batting survived all of 77. It was proof enough of Maharashtra’s control that the run-scoring was neither fluent nor easy.

This is a match played in fast forward, and so far, it appears Maharashtra’s first innings may not mean much. They have the advantage, though, on two grounds.

First, they know that should bad weather wipe out chunks of the remaining two days, they have done enough to be the team ahead. Overnight rain and a morning shower delayed play by two hours this morning, and at stumps only 54 overs could be bowled in the day.

Secondly, at all costs, Delhi will have to win this match with the bat, chasing any half-reasonable target on a wicket that is made for bowlers with discipline and accuracy.

One of them would be left-arm pace bowler Samad Fallah, who picked up 5-67 in the 29 overs he bowled in three long spells of eleven, ten and eight overs running through the Delhi innings. It is his tenth five-wicket haul in his 40th first-class match, and not the first time he has bowled at the Roshanara. He picked up five wickets in his first match here two years ago and so knew how to bowl on this wicket.

When play resumed, Manhas and Rawal played for most part of an hour, before Manhas tried to force the issue, playing across the line to the parsimonious Fallah. He was the first wicket to fall in the day, but it was the departure of the other Delhi stalwart Rajat Bhatia that signalled the end of Delhi’s frontline batsmen. Fallah came around the wicket to Bhatia and nibbled at his glove as he went forward defending, and wicketkeeper Motwani took the catch. He said his team thought of him as the bowler of the big wickets, and remembered getting Suresh Raina out for a duck against UP. “I relish the challenge of bowling to the best batsmen in a team. The others that are not that good, they play and miss.”

The latter half of the Delhi innings was wrapped up by Nikit Dhumal, a debutant for Maharashtra in this game. It was a performance that Fallah appreciated. “Nikit made his debut in the under-25s for Maharashtra this season. And when we saw him here, it wasn’t like he was making his debut at this level. He brought us back into this game.”

Dhumal picked up the wickets of Delhi top scorer, Vaibhav Rawal, blocking off the midwicket, which produced a stylishly lofted flick that landed in the hands of Anupam Sankelcha at deep-backward square leg. He then removed Sumit Narwal and Pradeep Sangwan, bowlers who were capable of exuberant innings that could have shrunk the score. It would be possible to defend any sizeable target that Maharashtra can set Delhi. The reason said Fallah, with a smile, was “because they’re desperate.”

Dec 162012

Ranji Trophy 2012-13: Delhi concede slender 1st innings lead against MaharashtraNew Delhi: Left-arm seamer Samad Fallah took five wickets as Maharashtra got a slender first innings lead of three runs against Delhi on an exciting second day of the Ranji Trophy Group A League encounter at the Roshanara Club ground here on Sunday.

In reply to Maharashtra`s first innings total of 196, Delhi were all out for 193 on a day when two hours were lost due to wet outfield and 54 overs were bowled.

Although Maharashtra got the first innings lead, it is of little consequence as two days are still left and there is every possibility of an outright result.

The visitors, however, owe their success to Fallah who made good use of the conditions to take five for 67. He got good support from fellow pacer Nikit Dhumal who grabbed three for 34.

Young left-hander Vaibhav Rawal fought hard for his 65 before he was the ninth batsman out, trying to play a pull shot of right-arm medium pacer Dhumal but was caught at the deep square leg boundary by Anupam Sanklecha.

He hit eight fours during his 281-minute knock in which he faced 157 balls. It was 182 for nine when Rawal was dismissed and the last few minutes of the Delhi innings was an exciting contest.

Delhi`s No 11 Pawan Suyal then hit Fallah for a six and four to bring his team within three runs of the opponent`s total.

However, Suyal played another aerial shot but was taken in the mid-wicket region by Kedar Jadhav which gave the visitors first-innings lead and more importantly a psychological edge going into the third day.

This was Fallah`s 10th five-wicket haul in first-class cricket. The best partnership for Delhi was 59 for the fourth wicket between Mithun Manhas (28) and Rawal.

However, Manhas was trapped plumb in-front by Fallah with an incoming delivery while seasoned Rajat Bhatia got a rising delivery that hit his glove and was taken by wicketkeeper Rohit Motwani.

With Manhas and Bhatia out in quick succession, the writing was there on the cards. Maharashtra seamers made good use of the conditions and never let the Delhi batsmen dominate proceedings, something that paid off for them.

Maharashtra were three for no loss in the second innings and have a total lead of six runs.

Brief Scores:

Maharashtra: 196 & 3/0.

Delhi: 193 in 77 overs (Vaibhav Rawal 65, Mithun Manhas 28, Samad Fallah 5/67).


Dec 142012

Virag Awate scored twin centuries on Ranji debut, Vidarbha v Maharashtra, Ranji Trophy, Group B, Nagpur, 4th day, November 27, 2012Maharashtra’s batsmen have piled on the centuries © Paritosh Pramanik

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Players/Officials: Vijay Dahiya
Series/Tournaments: Ranji Trophy | Indian Domestic Season

As the winter in Delhi begins to bite, its Ranji Trophy team has decided it must do the same – with a bullet. With only two matches left and 11 miserable points from six matches, Delhi will attempt to bring all their powers of purpose down on Maharashtra from Saturday at the Roshanara Club in north Delhi. Those powers begin with the fortuitous occurrence of a home ground going into preparation lockdown for an international game against Pakistan. It is why Delhi must move groundstaff, supersopper, catering unit and everything else it needs to play yet another all-or-nothing match on the fastest wicket in the neighbourhood with the promise of a four-man pace attack and a 9:15 start time known usually for freezing fingers in Delhi’s Decembers.

Even though the Kotla ODI between India and Pakistan is more than three weeks away, the logistical nightmare of moving from the Kotla to the private Roshanara Club, around 8 km away, will have to be undergone. The grumbling will be kept to the minimum if the move ends up being to Delhi’s eventual advantage, even though Ashish Nehra, their most experienced of quick men, is not on the team roster and Parvinder Awana, their quickest and most successful, finds himself in the Indian dressing room.

Instead, said coach Vijay Dahiya, medium-pacer Vikas Tokas had been called into the 15. If he does indeed turn up in the XI, Tokas will make his debut for Delhi after having played two Ranji matches for Railways in 2010-11. He completes the quartet of Delhi quicks being promised to stomp all over the Roshanara Club alongside Pawan Suyal, Pradeep Sangwan and Sumit Narwal. Delhi may be tempted to play five bowlers, including left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra, according to Dahiya, given that they are trying to snatch two outright wins and sneak their way into the knock-outs.

Against them will be a batting line-up that has rattled up totals of 764, 315, 333 and 540 and has six centuries, including a triple, from their batsmen in five matches. Yet, Maharashtra do not have a single outright win. Against Tamil Nadu, they were all out for 88 in their second innings in Chennai and beaten by 104 runs. Eight points and many tall totals have come from four draws, from first-innings leads against Vidarbha and Haryana. They may have three group games still left as compared to Delhi’s two, but at the tail-end of the Ranji Trophy, it is only strong and desperate opposition that lies in wait. First Delhi on what the day before the game looked like a green top, and then Baroda and Karnataka. In Group B, given Haryana’s unpredictability, Maharashtra must do all they can to ensure they do not end up hitting the bottom of the points table.