After over 11 hours on the field, getting hammered to all corners of the ground by all types of batsmen, it takes courage to sound optimistic.
Delhi chief coach Vijay Dahiya watched his players toil for just four wickets on the second day of the Ranji Trophy tie against Baroda, who ended the day on 525/7, but appeared to see a sliver of hope at the close.
“They didn’t declare and didn’t give our openers those nervy overs at stumps,” he said, perhaps surprised at Baroda going against the usual practice.Unmukt Chand, a future India prospect, and skipper Shikhar Dhawan will return to the field in the morning more composed than they appeared towards the end of Sunday’s play, ready to face what could be a testing session at the Ferozshah Kotla.
Despite not going for the kill by declaring, Baroda have the game in their grasp. They were expected to feel the absence of Yusuf Pathan’s hard-hitting once the compact Ambati Rayudu and the graceful Abhimanyu Chauhan were dismissed quickly after reaching their hundreds.
Baroda were 343 and speedster Parvinder Awana, having produced a beautiful leg-cutter to remove Rayudu, was looking buoyant. A few more wickets fell before they touched 400 but that was the only joy for Delhi.
The five-bowler Delhi attack, already missing the seasoned Ashish Nehra who limped out on Saturday morning, was punished by an eighth wicket partnership between Ketan Panchal and seamer Gagandeep Singh Natt. The two have already put on an unbeaten 126.
“Some edges flew off the bat. It means the bowlers were trying a lot of things,” said Dahiya. But nothing worked. Not even Dhawan's attacking field placements.
Panchal and Gagandeep hammered seven fours each and just as the day was winding down, they peppered the score sheet with half a dozen sixes. The main target was young left-arm spinner Manan Sharma, playing in only his second Ranji game. He went wicketless for 130 runs.
Brief scores: Baroda 525/7 (A Rayudu 131, A Chauhan 113, R Bhatia 3/35) v Delhi.