Being that it is serves as a rather active social club in addition to its temporarily requisitioned role as a Ranji venue,there is always plenty of hustle-bustle around the Roshanara ground unlike many other first class venues.
Sunday drew a large number of club members to the ground and they were vocal throughout the day. That cheering may have seen a little out of place at lunch. Delhi were 74/2 and captain Gautam Gambhir, who only a couple of days back was cut from the 30-man squad for the World Cup, was trying his best to battle the demons. Post the break,the cheering got even louder and steadily more justified. Gambhir got past his initially diffidence, showed his mean side and reached to his 16th Ranji and 38th first class century against Saurashtra.
Gambhir led from the front and remained unbeaten on 123 (14×4, 2×6) to lift Delhi to 260/6 on Day One. Saurashtra looked a happier side after they got a chance to bowl first. While their tendency to spray their deliveries meant they failed to make the most of the new ball, Gambhir was repeatedly troubled. Even as fellow opener Unmukt Chand looked compact, the left hander was beaten a few times as he poked at deliveries out side his off-stump. But it was Gambhir who managed to reach the drinks break even as Chand fell for 28. Even new man Varun Sood appeared the more composed player at first as Gambhir battled for survival.
It was only in the 31st over, bowled by off-spinner Kamlesh Makwana, that Gambhir displayed positive intent. On the third ball, he slog swept Makwana for a boundary. But the aggression nearly proved to be his downfall. On the sixth ball, Gambhir jumped out to the spinner but missed the ball. He would have been out for 27 had Amit Jogiyani completed the stumping chance.
That chance would be the moment Gambhir seemed to switch on.While he steadily got more fluent,Delhi kept losing wickets cheaply. Sood fell for 14 and Virender Sehwag and Vaibhav Rawal for 9 and 11 soon after. It took Rajat Bhatia, who made 47 off 84 balls while batting at six, to show the spine Delhi needed. The two put together 88 runs before Bhatia fell with the score on 233.
At the other end Gambhir grew more aggressive as he neared the three figure mark. He took ten runs from an over from left arm spinner Dharmendra Jadeja to move into the nineties. A four took him to 86 and a six that cleared the long on boundary and hit the bonnet of a parked vehicle took him to 92.
Gambhir looked to clear the fence again to get to his century in style. However the resultant swipe only found an inside edge for a single to fine leg. Its unlikely though that the bit of fortune would have troubled him too much for he batted securely to close of play. Delhi though would suffer another jolt as Puneet Bisht was dismissed for 17 in the penultimate over of the day.
Brief scores: Delhi 260/6 in 90 overs (G Gambhir batting 123 n.o, R Bhatia 47, U Chand 28; S Tyagi 2/45, A Bhat 2/52) vs Saurashtra