There are few sights more beautiful on a cricket field than a left-handed batsman in full flow. It becomes even more fascinating in the face of adversity.Delhi opener Shikhar Dhawan was in that sort of mood on Saturday. Forced to follow on by Gujarat, the left-hander belted out a graceful 77 in the second innings. The knock, though high in grace and quality, wasn't good enough to drag Delhi out of the woods. At 170 for 5 at the draw of stumps, they were staring down the barrel, needing 117 runs more to avoid an innings defeat.
After Delhi were shot out for 233 in the first innings, Dhawan preferred attack to defence and dispatched the very first ball to the boundary. That gave clear indication of what was to come as the left-hander unleashed a flurry of boundaries, reducing the bowlers and fielders to mere spectators. The strokes, particularly his drives, oozed class as he raced to his half-century off just 55 balls, studded with 12 boundaries.
Unmukt Chand, who top scored for Delhi with 93 in the first innings, went for a duck. Milind Kumar, too, left soon, leaving it to Dhawan and skipper Mithun Manhas to stabilise the innings. The partnership had begun to look good when Dhawan (77) had a lapse in concentration and nicked one to Parthiv Patel. The two added 91 for the third wicket.The dismissals of Yogesh Nagar and Punit Bisht pushed Delhi deeper into trouble. To add to it, Rajat Bhatia suffered neck spasms in the first innings and didn't come out to bat at his usual order in the second innings.
An otherwise good outing for Gujarat was ruined when pacer Amit Singh was twice called for suspect action in the 33rd over by umpire K Srinath. Parthiv Patel had to take him out of the attack. Amit was first reported in 2008, and then in South Africa during the IPL while playing for the Rajasthan Royals.