“Bilkul game on hai. Yaha se wo bhi outright win ke liye jaenge, hum bhi. Simple si baat hai,” said Delhi skipper Himmat Singh at the end of the second day’s play against Mumbai in the Group B Ranji Trophy match.
The 26-year-old, who was appointed captain in the 11th hour of the big Indian domestic cricket derby after being dropped earlier in the season, stitched together a 195-run partnership alongside Vaibhav Rawal to help Delhi gain a first-innings lead over Mumbai on Wednesday.
Coming into their sixth game, Delhi had only five points in five matches and are seventh in the eight team group. After their humiliating innings defeat to Saurashtra the team selection committee and the team, was put under immense scrutiny for a dismal campaign. Captain Yash Dhull was announced out of the playing XI on Monday less than 12 hours ahead of their contest against second placed Mumbai. It is under those circumstances that Delhi orchestrated a quest for a first-innings lead. A feat they’d only achieved once before this season.
Mumbai though didn’t make it a cakewalk for them. With yet another Ranji Trophy century, as it seemed, Sarfaraz Khan had helped the visitors following early fall of wickets on day one. On day two, Tushar Deshpande and Mohit Awasthi picked two-a-piece, leaving the home team’s first innings hanging by a thread.
Himmat, making his captaincy debut in first class cricket, played the proverbial captain’s knock, getting to his fifty with a meaty six over long on, coming down the track against spinner. A firm sweep off the next ball for four gave a clear signal. Delhi weren’t budging against the 41 time Ranji winners.
That same air was felt around the Arun Jaitley Stadium when Vaibhav Sharma pulled the throttle to hit three consecutive fours on his way to a third first class hundred, his first dating back to 2012.
“The century was special for me,” Vaibhav conceded at the end of the second day. “A lot of emotions were attached to this innings because I had been out of action for a long time…made a comeback this past year.”
Spin to pave the way ahead
At the end of day one’s play, Mumbai batter Sarfaraz Khan had stated that the wicket was easier to go after spinners from one end. The centurion of day two updated, “The fast bowlers have created roughs on both ends. It is turning sharply. And I think going into the second innings, the spinners will play a big role.”
Brief scores: Delhi 316/7 (Vaibhav Rawal 114, Himmat Singh 85) lead against Mumbai 293 (Mohit Avasthi 2/42)