From a team in a spot of bother a day before, Delhi were a transformed side on Thursday. Once again, the credit went to the bowlers.
After taking a 55-run first innings lead, Delhi snapped up seven Saurashtra wickets. With a mere 126-run lead and just three wickets in hand, the visitors clearly have their backs to the wall.
Not only did Delhi gain a lot of ground, the performance re-emphasised the sport’s fickleness.
The day belonged to Pradeep Sangwan and Puneet Bisht. Sangwan did what seasoned batsmen failed to do - bat on. The medium pacer thwarted the relentless Saurashtra attack and stitched a 141-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Bisht, who has become a saviour of sorts. The wicketkeeper-batsman went on to complete his century in demanding circumstances, considering that he lost his grandfather in the morning. Later, Bisht dedicated the ton to him.
At the other end, Sangwan persevered for more than two hours to inch towards a half century. Like a seasoned campaigner, he kept his eye on the ball and played each delivery according to its merit. The innings of 57 came to an end when a Ravindra Jadeja turner rapped him on the pads.
Jadeja then accounted for Bisht, but not before he had completed his century. Going for a sweep, the batsman missed the line and Sagar Jogiyani completed the stumping. The knock of 120 included 18 fours. When Bisht fell, Delhi were in a position of relative strength at 379 for nine. The innings finally folded up for 383.
After shining with the bat, Sangwan got going with the ball. He struck early by getting Jogiyani caught behind for naught. At 9/1, Saurashtra were under pressure. Delhi could have had the big-hitting Chirag Pathak but Aditya Jain dropped him at slips when he was on 21. He fell on 43 while slashing at a Parwinder Awana delivery and Ankur Julka made no mistake in the slip cordon.
Awana was responsible for sending back another big name.
Trying to defend a ball that climbed, Sitanshu Kotak (32) watched helplessly as the ball hit the stumps off an inside edge. Sangwan announced his return in style with Cheteshwar Pujara’s wicket. Negotiating an away-moving ball, Pujara ended up feeding skipper Virat Kohli at gully. He could manage 29 and the scoreboard read 118-4. The shadows had begun to lengthen when Pawan Suyal struck, twice in the space of three deliveries to claim Jaydev Shah and Sandeep Jobanputra.
At stumps, Saurashtra were 181-7 with Prateek Mehta (19) and Sandip Maniar (8) at the crease.