Delhi, one of the most heavyweight teams of the domestic circuit, made an inglorious exit from the Ranji Trophy losing to Saurashtra by 4 runs in their final group B league encounter.
Delhi’s (21 points from 8 games) loss meant that Odisha with 22 points made it to the quarter-final along with their eastern zone neighbours Jharkhand (32) in the last eight stage of the competition.
While both teams will play their final group league encounter against each other, the result of the matches will not change the position as Jharkhand and Odisha will finish second and third respectively.
Karnataka (37 points) topped the group B while Mumbai (30), Gujarat (26) and Tamil Nadu (26) qualified from group A.
Hyderabad (31) and Haryana (31) completed the quarter-final tally from group C.
Starting the day at 109 for 4, Delhi needed 167 runs on the final day to keep themselves in the hunt for a last eight berth but were all out for 271.
What would hurt Delhi more is the fact that they got Saurashtra all-out for 99 in the first innings and also got a handy lead of 145 runs.
The failure of the bowlers to get the last five batsmen out quickly was the reason Gambhir and his boys paid dearly.
But batting mainstay Rishabh Pant (29) could add only 10 runs before pacer Saurya Sanadia (5/93) got him caught by Kamlesh Makvana.
In trouble at 143 for five, Manan Sharma (46) and Milind Kumar (55) added 77 runs for the sixth wicket as Delhi looked on course for six points. But once the stodgy Milind who played 165 balls in four hours was gone, Delhi were in trouble again. India discard Jaydev Unadkat made it 226 for 7 with Manan gone.
Pradeep Sangwan (24) waged a lone battle but as pacer Kushang Patel (4/83 and match haul of 9 wickets) blew away the lower order.
It has been a woeful season for Delhi where save Rishabh Pant (972 runs), there was no notable performer. Pant also missed out on a chance to prove his detractors that he can score runs on tracks which are not conducive for batting and in situations where the team is in a spot of bother.
But Pant can’t be blamed as team’s condition could be gauged by the amount of runs the next best batsman scored.
The second highest scorer Milind Kumar (485 runs) did not even score half the runs.
Skipper Gautam Gambhir (235 from 5 games) and Shikhar Dhawan (125 from 3 games) returning from injury proved to be big disappointments for Delhi. Not to forget immensely gifted Unmukt Chand (366), who had only one big score to show for his efforts.
The biggest disappointment were bowlers with lefft-arm spinner Manan Sharma (18 wickets from 8 games) getting bulk of opportunities but could not produce even one match winning performance.
Navdeep Saini’s injury also affected the team’s balance with Pradeep Sangwan (15 wickets) looking the most impressive. Sangwan also scored 210 runs with the bat.
It would be interesting to see whether coach KP Bhaskar can retain his job till the end of the season with two tournaments — Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy still to go.
Brief Scores: Saurashtra 92 and 420.
Delhi 237 and (target 275) 271 (Milind Kumar 55, Rishabh Pant 29, Saurya Sanadia 5/93, Kushang Patel 4/83).
Points: Delhi 0; Saurashtra 6.