India Blue skipper Gautam Gambhir’s precise decisions and response from his bowling unit ensured that India Green were bundled out for 237 in just over two sessions on Day Three of their Duleep Trophy tie on Tuesday. Blue secured a lead of 470 and then posted 85/0 to be on top at stumps.
Openers Gambhir (36 no) and Mayank Agarwal (49 no) will look to consolidate on the last day, which will put India Blue in the final against India Red.
Pacers Pankaj Singh and Abhimanyu Mithun as well as leg spinner Karn Sharma struck at the right junctures in the innings, but credit should go to Gambhir for the way he handled his bowlers. The wicket was flat and offered no help to the bowlers. Gambhir knew that the only way to get wickets was to rotate his bowlers, making them bowl shorter spells. While his field placements gave a hint of his plans, it was the Delhi Ranji skipper’s guidance to fast bowlers that made the difference.
Pankaj and Mithun were asked to bowl accurately and they did that with perfection. Never did he continue to bowl them when Gambhir felt a batsman was settling down. Either he made sudden changes in the field settings, bringing in the close-in fielders further, or asked the bowlers to keep changing fields.
For a moment it looked as if Gambhir was leading his Delhi Ranji team on a flat deck at the Ferozeshah Kotla. On many occasions for Delhi, Gambhir has started with a spinner and brought in medium pacers with the old ball. Sumit Narwal and Parwinder Awana have been his go to men whenever he wanted to break partnerships. Last year Ranji match against Maharashtra could be an example.
On Tuesday, Gambhir took the upper hand in the very fourth over the Green innings by introducing Karn Sharma with the new ball. He delivered soon after as he bowled India opener Murali Vijay between bat and pad. An unsure Vijay stepped out after defending a few deliveries and played for spin but the pink ball with extra glaze skidded through.
Vijay could have given a tough time to the pacers, but Gambhir succeeded in his plan. He brought in his pacers soon after and made sure they hit the deck. After the first session, a stand between Parthiv Patel and Shreyas Gopal started to flourish. The old ball was turning but the spinners weren’t effective as they failed to vary their pace. Gambhir called back Pankaj and Mithun. From either end, the pacers delivered and India Green’s misery was set to continue.