As the first day of the Delhi-Odisha tie was drawing to a close, Delhi's batting mainstay Mithun Manhas was ensuring the debutant at the other end, Manan Sharma, kept his cool and saw off the bowling.
Manhas perhaps was only returning a favour Manan's father and then Delhi skipper Ajay Sharma had done to him years ago. On Friday, Manan was given the task of stemming the rot after the hosts had lost three quick wickets for 55. The youngster had already made an impact, having picked up four wickets earlier in the day to help dismiss the visitors for just 143 on the opening day at the Ferozshah Kotla ground.
Flighting the ball, the left-arm spinner deceived the Odisha tail-enders as Delhi, without their India stars, made a bright start after the humiliation against UP in the first match. After Pawan Suyal struck, fellow pacemen Sumit Narwal and Parvinder Awana rocked the top-order before Manan mopped up the tail.
The 20-year-old Manan returned to Delhi last year, after having tried his luck with Haryana. He did well leading the U-22 team to the final last year. In the U-25 games a fortnight back, he picked four wickets in an innings twice to earn a place in the Delhi side.
"Ever since he started to drive, he doesn't want me to accompany him. With your parents around, kids can't usually express themselves. That's why I wasn't there to see his debut," said Ajay Sharma, who holds the record for most Ranji centuries (31) - and was also a handy left-arm spinner - but was slapped a life ban from the game for match-fixing.
Though not at the matches, Ajay helps out his son. "Dad knows that bowling is my priority. So, he wants me to work hard on my batting," says Manan. And Delhi head coach, Vijay Dahiya, believes Manan has a future as an all-rounder.
For Odisha, only skipper Natraj Behera, who retired hurt after being hit on the box but returned later, looked confident.
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