Skipper Gautam Gambhir led from the front with a gutsy unbeaten century while the others floundered as Delhi struggled to 260 for six at stumps on the first day of their opening Ranji Trophy fixture against Saurashtra, in Delhi on Sunday.
When the stumps were drawn, Gambhir was undefeated on 123 off 270 balls, having shared a 88-run stand for the fifth wicket with another veteran Rajat Bhatia (47).
While Virender Sehwag was run out for 9, Unmukt Chand’s (28) downfall came due to atrocious shot selection while Vaibhav Rawal (9) was cleaned up playing to a wrong line.
Varun Sood (14), who was surprisingly promoted to No. 3, was done in by a short ball onto his rib-cage.
The day’s highlight certainly was Gambhir’s 38th first-class century as he showed his fighting qualities on a sporting Roshanara Club track that didn’t have lot of grass but was of firm, even bounce nature.
The left-hander played safe during initial overs where he looked a bit uncomfortable against Saurashtra pace duo of Sudeep Tyagi (2/45) and Abhishek Bhatt (2/52), but grew in confidence with passage of time. His six hour vigil included 14 boundaries and two sixes.
The only chance that he gave was on personal score of 27, when he jumped out to off-break bowler Kamlesh Makvana and missed it completely but Sagar Jogiyani failed to carry out an easy stumping.
The 50 came in the post lunch session with a square driven boundary. But before that Sehwag was run out when he called Gambhir for a third run. It was Sehwag, who was coming back at striker’s end but his desperate dive couldn’t beat Sheldon Jackson’s direct throw from the deep.
Rawal was out quickly and Delhi were in a spot at 145 for four before Gambhir found perfect partner in Bhatia. Both were hardly bothered by Makvana and left-arm spinner Dharmendra Jadeja.
The drives started to flow and both stepped out to spinners for maximum. Gambhir was unbeaten on 98 at tea. His century was completed when he tried a heave off Makvana but it went towards fine-leg as Gambhir reached his landmark.
Bhatia was playing well as he dispatched Jadeja for two boundaries before was bowled playing to wrong line.
Puneet Bisht (17) was victim of second new ball when Bhatt edged one to Jogiyani.
Brief Scores: Delhi: 260 for six (Gautam Gambhir 123 batting, Rajat Bhatia 47, Sudeep Tyagi 2/45).
Gohil, Panchal, Merai propel Gujarat to 258/4
Fine half centuries by Samit Gohil, Priyank Kirit Panchal and B H Merai propelled visitors Gujarat to a comfortable 258 for four at the end of first day’s play in their Ranji Trophy Group B league match against Rajasthan in Jaipur.
At stumps, Merai (63 not out) was at the crease with K D Patel (17) giving him company.
It was Rajasthan skipper and Test medium player Pankaj Singh who won the toss and chose to field on a wicket which had a fair amount of grass on it.
Some wayward bowling and a bit of luck saw Gujarat openers Gohil (52) and Panchal (68) settling down to add 108 runs for the first wicket.
Rajasthan could break through after the lunch break with Pankaj Singh having Gohil plumb in front just before tea. Panchal struck 12 fours.
The third session belonged to Rajasthan as they got rid of Parthiv Patel (18) while Manjit Choudhary and Venu Gopal Rao (22) were trapped in front of the wicket by Shailendra Gehlot, reducing the visitors to 234 for four.
After that Merai, who hit five fours, held one end while Patel too showed composure.
For Rajasthan, Manjit Singh Choudhary picked two for 64, while Pankaj Singh and Shailendra Gehlot had one apiece.