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Toothless Delhi slip on placid track

Something has to go terribly wrong somewhere if a part-time bowler ends up bowling the most number of overs in a day. Either the rest of the bowlers did not pull their weight, or the team combination was faulty, or there’s something iffy with the wicket.

cricket Updated: Nov 02, 2010 01:12 IST
Subhash Rajta

Something has to go terribly wrong somewhere if a part-time bowler ends up bowling the most number of overs in a day. Either the rest of the bowlers did not pull their weight, or the team combination was faulty, or there’s something iffy with the wicket.

For Delhi, it was a combination of all three that saw their skipper Mithun Manhas take up the responsibility of the main bowler, reeling away 16 overs and picking up the only two wickets to fall.

As a result, Bengal, thanks to a superb unbeaten 150 by opener Arindam Das, ended Day 1 of their Ranji Trophy Elite Division Group A tie on a comfortable 313 for two.

Delhi’s problems began with the wicket. Notwithstanding all the hoopla for almost a year now, following the abandoned ODI against Sri Lanka, the wicket turned out to be a typical Kotla track – having little bounce and turn as Delhi coach Manoj Prabhakar put it.

As this was the first match on the track after some remedial work, it’s expected to play a bit low and slow. But the authorities concerned could have left some more grass on it, especially when the Delhi team management had asked for it.

The pressure of being under the International Cricket Council (ICC) scanner and fear of something untoward happening seem to have forced the authorities to play it safe and dish out a lifeless wicket.

Delhi would be naïve to blame the wicket for all their woes, and Prabhakar was clear about it. "Yes, there was little assistance from the wicket, but they could have at least bowled a better line and length and showed a more aggressive and positive approach," he said.

While all the bowlers had a pretty ordinary day, leg spinner Chetanya Nanda looked completely off colour. He had problems with his run-up – he bowled seven no-balls – and his length allowed batsmen to pull him repeatedly.

Delhi’s decision to field four seamers, including all-rounder Rajat Bhatia, and a lone spinner, too, is questionable, given the nature of the Kotla track. Vikas Mishra, a promising left-arm spinner, could have given more teeth to Delhi’s attack on this track.

While it turned out a forgettable day for Delhi, Bengal had several reasons to look pleased. Apart from Das’s unbeaten ton, Shreevats Goswami batted well for his 68. The duo put up 133 runs on the board to seize control of the situation. Later, skipper Manoj Tiwary chipped in with a solid unbeaten 47.

With both Das and Tiwary going strong, Delhi look to be in for another long day on the field.