Unmukt Chand pumped the air with his gloved fist and jumped twice before soaking in the applause. The 20-year-old had just completed a century off 117 balls with nine fours and three sixes.
He finished with 119 (131 balls),which included another three hits along the boundary rope. Chands knock was instrumental in helping Delhi reach 342 against India Red in the third match of the Challenger Trophy at the Holkar Stadium in Indore.
The total proved to be beyond India Red as they lost by 112 runs. The win put Delhi in the final,against India Blue,which will be played on Sunday.
As is his wont,Chand looked to attack at the start of the innings against the medium pacers after India Red skipper Yusuf Pathan elected to field. For all the talk about his talent,and an uncanny ability to scores runs in crunch games,Chand has been criticised for throwing away starts.
After five overs,Delhi were 39 for no loss and 21 of those runs were scored by Chand in just 22 deliveries during his opening stand with Gautam Gambhir.
Chand brought out the punch-drive,the pull and the square cut. The manner in which he tackled the short ball was impressive. There was no hint of apprehension as he either pulled or displayed exemplary defence to knock the ball towards the square leg area with soft hands.
Medium pacer Sandeep Warrier paid the price for being short and wide as Chand found a six with a well-timed upper cut. In spite of all the shot-making from Chand,there were early signs that he was prepared to get his eye in before attacking the bowlers. Chand played out a maiden over the second of the Delhi innings from Warrier,an upcoming but promising medium-pacer.
However,Chand did offer a chance when he edged the ball towards Abhinav Mukund at gully off the bowling of Abhimanu Mithun. The spilled chance gave Chand a second life on 37.
Along with Virat Kohli,Chand added 93 runs for the second wicket. But what was impressive was Chands mature approach once the spinners came on. Once Kohli and Sehwag fell in a span for two overs,Chand took the responsibility of ensuring that Delhi didnt suddenly lose further momentum.
Patient against spinners
With left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem maintaining a fine line and bowling quicker,Chand transferred his weight on the back foot and was prepared to play the ball at the very last moment. He sliced the Jharkhand left-arm spinner between point and gully to bring up his half century. With Yusuf Pathan operating from the other end,Chand was ready to deal in ones and twos rather than trying to make a statement.
During the batting powerplay,Chand and Milind Kumar hit 15 off one Mithun over. Kumar scored 25 off two Umesh Yadav overs in the powerplay to help Delhi maintain a healthy runrate.
In the 42nd over,Chand reached the three-figure mark with a glance off Warrier. He punished his next delivery over covers before pulling him to backward square-leg. Eventually,a slower delivery from Mithun crashed into Chands stumps. Rajat Bhatias unbeaten knock of 40,which included three towering sixes and as many fours,took Delhi to 342. Bhatia scored 24 off Mithun in the last over.
India Red lost Robin Uthappa cheaply and though his opening partner Mukund made 64 and Gurkeerat Singh,batting at No.7 made 83,the rest of the batsmen failed to make an impact as medium pacer Ashish Nehra and left-arm spinner Varun Sood took five and four wickets respectively.
Brief Scores: Delhi 342/6 (U Chand 119,V Kohli 63,M Kumar 57,Rahat Bhatia 40 n.o.) bt India ‘Red’ 230 in 40.1 overs (Gurkeerat Singh 83,Abhinav Mukund 64; Ashish Nehra 4/38,Varun Sood 5/84).
FINAL: Delhi vs India Blue on Sunday