It’s quite easy and convenient for bowlers to blame their failure on a ‘placid’ and ‘unresponsive’ wicket. But, on many occasions, the wicket is as good or bad as the bowlers themselves, as Delhi’s bowlers showed on Thursday.
The track that appeared a batting beauty when Baroda had been bowling suddenly became ‘alive’ when Delhi came on to bowl, and the hosts were reeling at 319 for 8, still 122 runs short of avoiding the follow-on, by the end of the day.
What made the wicket behave and look different was the fact that Delhi had the bowlers to extract help from the largely batting-oriented wicket, and the fielders, unlike Baroda, grabbed the chances that came their way.
Delhi’s new-ball bowlers Sumit Narwal and Parvinder Awana surprised Baroda openers Connor William and Satyajit Parab with the bounce they extracted.
More importantly, they bowled in the right areas, making the batsmen play all the time.
When the ball was banged in short, it was not in vain as steepling bounce caused discomfort to the batsmen.
In only the third over of the day Delhi drew the first blood with Narwal forcing an edge from Williams. Punit Bisht took the first of six catches on the day. Soon, Azhar Bilakhia also fell to Narwal in the slips.
Rajat Bhatia had Parab caught behind, leaving Baroda in further trouble at 70 for three.
Baroda looked to regain control when Jacob Martin, playing his 100th Ranji match, and Rakesh Solanki were in the middle.
The veteran played some delectable straight drives and the left-hander, on the other end, also played some nice strokes square of the wicket. Much of Baroda’s hopes hung on this pair, but Narwal returned to induce an edge from Martin (44) to see Bisht pick up another catch.
Thereafter, Yusuf Pathan came in, smashed 32 off 19 balls, including 22 off a single Narwal over before edging to the keeper.
Yusuf played some breathtaking strokes in his brief stint, but the need of the hour was to put his head down and grind out a big score.
Once he was gone, Baroda were out of the game, though Solanki (55) and Pinal Shah did put up some resistance.
If Delhi take the two remaining wickets in quick time on Friday, they could still push for an outright win.