As Pradeep Sangwan walked in to bowl the 67th over, skipper Gautam Gambhir darted across to have a word with the left-arm medium pacer. They were joined in by fast bowler Ishant Sharma. Judging by the animated discussion in the middle, it looked like Delhi’s senior pros wanted the young left-armer to alter his length on a placid Ferozshah Kotla track.
The hot afternoon sun has baked the Kotla wicket and sucked every ounce of moisture from it. The wicket had become easy paced, and with so sign of lateral movement, Delhi bowlers needed to do something different. Standing at long-off, Gambhir looked worried.
Despite picking up two wickets in each of the two sessions, Vidarbha looked poised to put on a decent total, thanks to a fifth-wicket partnership between Shalabh Srivastava and Aditya Shanware, which was showing early signs of fruition.
Sangwan then obliged his captain by bowling one that is short of a length. The delivery climbed onto Shalabh Srivatsa who pulls it straight down the throat of Sumit Narwal stationed at fine-leg. Delhi’s change of plan brought instant results. All of a sudden, Vidharbha had lost half their side for just 152.
The fresh Kotla was the liveliest in the morning session. The grass cover meant the fast bowlers could get purchase if they were willing to bend their back and hit the deck hard. It was therefore not surprising that the two bowlers who benefited the most were also Delhi’s quickest on view – Ishant Sharma and Pradeep Sangwan. Together, the duo picked up five of the six wickets to fall on Day 1 after Gambhir won the toss and put Vidharbha in.
A lot was expected from Ishant before the start of the game today, and the 28-year-old did not disappoint. He was the sharpest in the morning session, bowling 8 overs in two lively spells and getting rid of opener Ganesh Satish in the interim.
In the afternoon session, as the batting looked relatively easier, the lanky fast bowler mixed his lengths judiciously and kept the visitors guessing. Rarely did he err in line, and he was justly rewarded for his effort. Ishant walked away with two more wickets – all coming at crucial junctures in the day’s play to peg the visitors.
In the afternoon session, he dismissed Vidarbha’s anchor-man Faiz Faisal for 56, and then returned for a final spell at the fag end of the day to dismiss a well set Shanware with his penultimate delivery of the day. He finished with figures of 15-6-26-3, mighty impressive considering the insipid nature of the track that was on offer in Kolta.
Sangwan, on the other hand, took time to hit his straps. He looked flat and one-dimensional in his first spell in the morning. He bowled with more purpose in the afternoon session. Like Ishant, he too mixed his length cleverly and broke a dour 89-run third-wicket stand between Vidarbha captain Badrinath and Fazal.
For the visitors, the bulk of their batsmen got starts, but none played stayed on to give the innings any significant impetus. After losing both their openers cheaply, Badrinath and Fazal played a key role in providing some respectability. But the duo did not look to up the ante. The only sign of any intent came in the first over of Manan Sharma, when Fazal launched him over long-on for a six. Barring that, the duo showed extreme caution and failed to seize the initiative in the afternoon when batting looked comfortable.
Sangwan ended the stand, when he trapped Badrinath in front. The third wicket stand for Vidharbha yielded 89 runs, but it took them 38.4 overs.
Brief scores: Vidarbha 222/6 in 90 overs. (Faiz Fazal 56, S. Badrinath 44; I Sharma 3/26, P Sangwan 2/35) vs Delhi.