Just one rash shot in his 259-minute stay robbed KS Shahbuddin — and Andhra — the opportunity to make history. No one can really imagine merely by reading the scoreboard of how keen the Delhi-Andhra contest turned out on a hot Friday afternoon.
For the record, Delhi managed to hold on to two crucial points — which have almost taken them out of the relegation threat — after escaping some heart-stopping moments during the entire last session here at the Indira Gandhi Municipal Corporation Stadium.
Finally, when the umpires signalled the end of play after 82 overs, there was a feeling of disbelief among all the 22 players, as the match could not produce a result after the see-saw contest.
Andhra were just four runs short of their 333-run target, while Delhi fell short by just one wicket. Both teams, however, will go back home with at least one satisfaction — they were not beaten.
Chasing an impossible-looking 333, Shahbuddin produced one of the best knocks in domestic cricket (95 runs) to bring Andhra to the brink of victory from an impending defeat with his masterly-crafted knock which took Andhra to 329 for nine at the end.
During his stay, the Andhra veteran not only kept pushing his team score at a steady four-run average but also protected his partners from facing the best Delhi bowler, Ishant Sharma.
The 95 runs he crafted for the seventh wicket with Md Faiq were testimony to his well-planned assault. It was only when Andhra were just 10 runs away from their target and with 12 balls remaining, did he suddenly decide to take a wild heave against Delhi’s most experienced bowler, Amit Bhandari.
As Delhi substitute fielder at long-off boundary Abhinav Bali cupped Shahbuddin, the 1,000-plus crowd at the stadium could only watch in disbelief. They knew what it meant for the home team. Delhi did press for victory after Shahbuddin’s dismissal but the No. 10 and 11 Andhra batsmen — D Kalyana Krishna and P Vijaya Kumar — somehow managed to save the day.
Earlier, Delhi skipper Mithun Manhas, after battling dehydration on Thursday night, made a sporting declaration soon after reaching his century with the team score at 186 for four. He took only six overs on Friday to reach his first Ranji Trophy century in the last three seasons.
A lead of 332 would have been enough for Delhi to try and bowl out Andhra. Delhi were off to a good start when, after Manhas was taken to hospital and Aakash Chopra took charge, Andhra lost their four frontline batsmen for 50. And when the last recognised batsman for Andhra, RV Ch Prasad, also left at a score of 104, the match looked over for the hosts.
At this stage, the 29-year-old Shahbuddin gently took control of the situation and built a 94-run partnership with Faiq.
Even as Delhi’s stand-in skipper took two brilliant catches to dismiss Faiq (47) and Lakshmana Kishore (1), Shahbuddin changed his gameplan. He kept his new-ball partner Krishna out of Ishant’s firing line — facing 9.5 out of 11 the overs bowled by him — by intelligently taking last-ball singles.
RAJKOT: After beating Delhi in the previous encounter, Saurashtra defeated Haryana by seven wickets with S Jogiyani (92) making the bulk of the runs.
Set a victory target of 184 runs after Ravindra Jadeja ended his superb spell with 5 for 45, Jogiyani combined with Sitanshu Kotak, who remained unbeaten on 37, to guide the hosts to a deserving win.
Haryana 308 and 143 (N Saini 27, Joginder Sharma 38 n.o.; R Jadeja 5 for 45, R Dhruve 3 for 59) lost to Saurashtra 268 and 184 for 3 (S Jogiyani 92, S Kotak 37 n.o.; N Saini 2 for 28).
VADODARA: Test discard Irfan Pathan played a superb innings of 82 not out to lead Baroda to a five-wicket win over Uttar Pradesh.
Set a victory target of 172 on Thursday, Pathan combined well with HR Jadhav after the top order had crumbled, to give Baroda a deserving win.
Earlier, UP’s P Kumar and R Mishra took two wickets each to put Baroda in dire straits.
Uttar Pradesh 269 and 210 (RP Srivastava 58, A Murtaza 45; RB Patel 5 for 75) lost to Baroda 308 and 172 for 5 (IK Pathan 82 n.o., HR Jadhav 21 n.o.; P. Kumar 2 for 47, R. Mishra 2 for 29).
HYDERABAD: Deep Dasgupta made a resolute unbeaten 50 to guide Bengal to a four-wicket victory over Hyderabad. Overnight 72 for 2, Bengal, who were set a victory target of 186 runs, were in trouble at one point with A Absolem and M Arjun grabbing two wickets each. However, seasoned Deep Dasgupta played a slow and steady innings to lead the visitors to victory.
Hyderabad 309 and 76 (T Suman 23; RR Bose 7 for 25) lost to Bengal 200 and 188 for 6 (A Jhunjhunwala 39, D Dasgupta 50 n.o.; A Absolem 2 for 26, M Arjun 2 for 34).
BANGALORE: Karnataka thrashed Tamil Nadu by 10 wickets with C Raghu and SB Joshi taking three wickets apiece to reduce them to 246 all out in their second innings. Only S. Badrinath and Hemang Badani could stand up to the Karnataka bowling.
Chasing a paltry 28 runs, Karnataka, who had a mammoth 426 runs in the first innings, scored the winnings runs without losing a wicket.
Karnataka 426 and 28 for no loss beat TN 207 and 246 (R Prasanna 59, S Badrinath 63, H Badani 59; C Raghu 3 for 51, SB Joshi 3 for 87) by 10 wickets.
MUMBAI: Mumbai won their second consecutive match by an innings when they beat Rajasthan by an innings and 31 runs.
Rajasthan 155 and 297 (G Khoda 65, R Kanwat 60, A Jadeja 70; A Agarkar 3 for 88, A Nair 2 for 36, N Kulkarni 3 for 60) lost to Mumbai 483 by an innings and 31 runs.
NASIK: A century by S Sriram helped Maharashtra gain first innings lead against Gujarat.
Gujarat 369 and 73 for 1 (N Modi 32 n.o., A Bilakhia 30) drew with Maharashtra 1st inn 450 for 9 decl (H Khadiwale 73, Y Takawale 57, S Sriram 122, M Nigde 53; A Makda 5 for 125).