If Gautam Gambhir’s century was the high point of Delhi’s innings on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy campaign, then Day II belonged to the tail. It was due to some lusty hitting from Parwinder Awana, and Sumit Narwal that Delhi added 182 more runs to their overnight score of 260, putting the visitors under pressure as they lost 6 wickets for 152 runs, needing another 141 runs to avoid follow on.
It all started with a 54-run partnership between Gambhir and Awana (61) followed by the 74-run stand that Narwal (65) and Saini stitched together for the last wicket that not only lifted Delhi to 442, but dashed any hopes Saurashtra might have harboured of taking the initiative once Gambhir fell for 147.
After Gambhir’s dismissal, Awana took it upon himself to keep the scoreboard ticking. Initially, the Saurashtra pacers started troubling him with bouncers, forcing Awana to come up with a strategy.
He started utilising the width of the crease, moving away from the leg-stump and making room for himself. To a Sudeep Tyagi short delivery aimed at the middle-stump, Awana clobbered it over long-on for a huge six.
Two of his shots which he played to Chirag Jani could have easily been the picks of the day. One was a back-foot punch through cover and the other was a late cut, which he played to perfection after making enough room for himself.
In the 61 he made, Awana hit five boundaries and his three sixes. Awana’s approach and batting sucked out the last drop of hope from the Saurashtra attack. With pacers unable to provide any assistance, Kamlesh Makwana was brought back into the attack. Makwana trapped Awana in the 116th over.
One hoped Saurashtra would revisit their strategy. Instead, they tried to intimidate Narwal and Saini and ended up bowling wayward and allowing the last Delhi pair to swing their arms. Narwal, who has always showed that he could bat, kept his promise and made 65 in just 70 deliveries with five towering sixes and three boundaries. His best came in the 126th over in which he tonked left-arm spinner Dharmendra Jadeja for three sixes in as many balls.
But the day belonged to Awana, who carried his batting form to the bowling department. He started with the new ball and picked up two wickets in his first two overs. His first victim was opener Chirag Pathak, who edged a beautiful outgoing delivery to Unmukt Chand at slips. Later, Sagar Jogiyani would knick one to Punit Bisht.
In 20 overs, Rajat Bhatia (3/24), who was introduced into the attack, picked up two from either of the Roshanara ends and Saurashtra were reeling at 79/4 with only Arpit Vasavada sticking in the middle. He was on 38 when Awana (3/20) got him the same way he picked up Pathak with Chand committing no mistake at second slip.
Brief scores: Delhi 442 (G Gambhir 147, S Narwal 65, P Awana 61; S Tyagi 3/95, A Bhat 2/79). Saurashtra 152 for 6 (D Chauhan 40 n.o., A Vasavada 38; P Awana 3/20, R Bhatia 3/24).