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Delhi out of their depth vs Pak

Pakistan beat the Delhi Ranji team by 7 wkts in their only warm-up game ahead of the ODI series, reports Arjun Sen.

cricket Updated: Nov 03, 2007 15:34 IST
Arjun Sen

The Pakistan players' vests have the legend 'No Excuses' splashed right across the front. On Friday, Geoff Lawson's boys didn't need one as they comprehensively defeated the Delhi Ranji team by seven wickets in their first - and only - warm-up game ahead of the ODI series.

Delhi, though, had many reasons to look forward to the forthcoming Ranji season with a lot of optimism after their performance on Friday.

Everyone who was at the Kotla - and there were quite a lot of them, at least 15,000 more than the 5,000-odd the DDCA brass had predicted - had been expecting a Gautam Gambhir blitz at the top after Shoaib Malik won the toss and put Delhi in. Gambhir, however, managed only 4 before being trapped in front by Umar Gul.

The wicket had a green tinge which Akhtar and Gul made the most of. With Gambhir back in the hut, and the ball doing things, Aakash Chopra and Shikhar Dhawan decided to drop anchor. The duo put on 34 for the second wicket and looked like they were settling in when part-timer Younis Khan claimed the first of his back-to-back wickets, having Chopra lbw. Mithun Manhas was castled off the next.

Virat Kohli came and went and suddenly, Delhi were looking down the barrel at 46/4.

However, Dhawan and Rajat Bhatia ensured that wouldn't be the case with a fighting, gutsy and, at times, even attacking 91-run stand. Dhawan lost his wicket carelessly, being run out after he failed to ground his bat. He was one of three batsmen run out, something coach Dahiya must look at.

Bhatia (75) took over the mantle of scoring quick runs and, helped by cameos from the lower order, managed to get the total to a respectable 213/9.

214 was never expected to challenge Pakistan, even if they weren't always seeming (or expected) to take this game seriously and it didn't.

Salman Butt top-scored with an elegant 83 off 84 balls, before retiring, while Misbah-ul-Haq (39), Yasir Hameed (33*) and Imran Nazir (34) all chipped in. The Delhi bowlers put in a performance that was enterprising but ineffective.

The Pakistanis enjoyed themselves no end, both on the field and off it. The players never pushed themselves to the limit, used up time in the middle to get their feet moving, find their timing and give themselves valuable practice ahead of the ODI series.

The Delhi players, though, fought hard, gave it their all in the field and had a good workout. Yet, the gulf remained.