Uday Kaul is not your quintessential brash, flamboyant 20-year-old. He bats quite the way he looks, unassuming. Not for him are the flamboyant drives and the dismissive hooks. Talented and technically sound, Kaul produced an innings, which can be best described old school, of 95 to help Punjab post 391 against Delhi in their Ranji Trophy match at the Roshanara Club here on Tuesday.
And though the Delhi opening pair of Aakash Chopra (67*) and Shikhar Dhawan (64*) made that total look much smaller by stumps with an unbeaten 142-run stand, Kaul's effort was just as valuable.
Kaul, unbeaten on 28, started the day with the same kind of confidence he had finished the last. Hardly troubled by the bowlers, Kaul went about the task of building his innings with purpose. Equally comfortable on either side, he found the gaps with ease.
But, every now and then, just when one thought Kaul was only a grafter, the 'keeper batsman would produce a shot of genuine quality.
Kaul built a 102-run stand with his overnight partner Ankur Kakkar (56) and had put Punjab in a position of dominance in the game, when, Kakkar fell to a brilliant catch by Puneet Bisht behind the wicket. Delhi were in to the Punjab tail and on the lookout for a swift end to the innings. New man Gagandeep Singh obliged them with a catch to skipper Aakash Chopra off Ashish Nehra after the addition of just one run to the total.
Punjab had lost two wickets for a run, and a mini collapse looked on the cards. But Kaul had other ideas. He continued with his knock, unperturbed.
If Kaul's knock was all about perseverance, his dismissal was quite the opposite. He had just driven Bhandari past mid-off to reach 95, when, for the first time in his 235-ball knock, rashness took over reason.
He fell off the next ball, caught behind trying a shot that never was on.
If Kaul is about wearing the opposition bowlers down, Shikhar Dhawan is all about destroying them. The young Delhi opener had a great last season, both domestically and in the IPL, and looked in prime touch in his first Ranji outing.
The stylish southpaw hit nine breathtaking fours in his knock and, together with his skipper brought Delhi right back in the match. Once both Dhawan and Chopra had set their eye in, they began to find the boundaries regularly.
Delhi's batting is as good as any in the country, and judging by the way they have started, Punjab's bowlers could be in for a long, hard day.