It was just the fourth over of the day and having seen off the first 15 minutes to deny the threat of Ishant Sharma and Sumit Narwal, Odisha batsman Biplab Samantray drove Sharma to the covers. He set off for a quick single, but an alert Manan Sharma’s direct hit caught the non-striker and skipper Govind Poddar short of crease. With Odisha’s batting mainstay back in the pavilion, and them reeling at 116/5, Delhi would have sensed a win.
But Samantray made amends for the miscommunication with a resilient 88 that put paid to Delhi’s victory prospects. He had an able ally in wicket-keeper Saurabh Rawat, with whom he stitched 134 runs, and more importantly frustrated Delhi for 59.2 overs. Samantray was methodical in his approach, shutting out the boundaries until the ball was utterly loose. The runs came at a premium, but the priority was to keep the wickets intact. Thus, they saw off the bowlers until lunch.
Post break, Samantray became more assertive, tucking the Delhi bowlers for eight boundaries in the space of one hour. He reached his half century with a dab towards third man off Sharma. So did Rawat soon. Delhi skipper Gautam Gambhir, meanwhile, was at his wit’s end, trying everything he could to bargain a breakthrough. But he was kept waiting. By the time Samantray departed, 12 runs short of the three-figure mark, Odisha were eight runs short of Delhi’s first-innings lead. The lower-order too clung on stoically. That proved enough for Odisha to avoid a defeat, while Delhi had to be satisfied with the three points.
Brief Scores: Odisha 237 & 274/8 (B Samantray 88, Rawat 54, Ishant Sharma 3/51) drew Delhi 495/8d. Pts: Delhi 3, Odisha 1.
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