Rishabh Pant showed his natural flair for strokeplay with an attractive 99 in company of a reliable Nitish Rana (110 batting) as Delhi were comfortably placed 260 for 4 against Maharashtra on truncated first day of the fifth round encounter of Ranji Trophy.
In all only 62 overs of play was possible after light deteriorated in the final session.
Pant, who has not had any significant contribution during the current season did not get bogged down by the fall of wickets as his 99 off 110 balls had eight boundaries and six huge sixes.
Pant was finally snapped at slips by rival captain Ankit Bawne off Chirag Khurana but not before he has entertained one and all at the Airforce ground with his exhilarating strokeplay. He was especially severe on off-break bowler Khurana, whom he hit for four sixes — all down the ground.
Pant have had some issues against slow bowlers but he cleared the cobwebs in his mind as he used his feet to good effect against the spinners.
Pacers Nikit Dhumal and Praveen Dadhe tried to feed him with short balls but he kept his balance while hitting those pull-shots.
“I was never under any kind of pressure contrary to what people believe. There are times when you don’t get runs. It wasn’t as if I was trying to score quickly. I played 110 balls and all were not hit for boundaries and sixes. It means I defended well. Also I share a comfort level with Rana which reflects whenever, we bat together,” Pant said after the day’s
Pant-Rana duo came together in the 16th over with Delhi in a spot at 55 for 3 with Gautam Gambhir (1), Anuj Rawat (20) and Dhruv Shorey (7) and added 168 runs for the fourth wicket.
Mumbai Indians left-hander Rana hit 11 boundaries and three sixes, with most of his drives through the off-side.
Mumbai Indians talent scout John Wright along with national selector Devang Gandhi must have been happy watching the young turks in full flow.
Rana is having a good Ranji season with scores of 110 (vs Assam), 89 (vs Railways), 67 (vs UP) in previous matches apart from his fourth first-class ton in the current game.
Pant was lucky to have been dropped twice at 44 and 73 –especially the second one off Khurana in the long-off region.
He was unlucky when he tried to play a defensive stroke but the edge was taken just a run shirt of his fifth first-class hundred.
Delhi vs Maharashtra: Delhi 260 for 4 (Nitish Rana 110 batting, Rishabh Pant 99, Chirag Khurana 2/71) vs Maharashtra.
Hyderabad vs Assam: Hyderabad 289/8 (BP Sandeep 84, AT Rayudu 83, Arup Das 3/90, Rahul Singh 3/54)
Rajasthan vs Gujarat: Rajasthan 153 (Chintan Gaja 8/40). Gujarat 90/1 (Samit Gohil 46, Priyank Panchal 34 batting).