Delhi's young brigade finally seems to be taking centrestage. After years of dilly-dallying by the selectors, with the seniors being kept in because of past records rather than current performances, Delhi can now actually look forward to the Ishants, Kohlis, Tehlans, Bishts and Jains to take the state forward.
Throughout the current Ranji Trophy season, though the youngsters have been giving a tough time to the seniors, they have never really got an opportunity to show their worth. But Wednesday was different —the team depended on them to take it out of crisis.
Mayank Tehlan, the first to rise to the challenge on Tuesday, completed his second century of the season on Wednesday to take Delhi to a fighting 355 against Andhra. His flamboyance also helped the young Aditya Jain make a mark. Jain was the last to go, only after he ran out of partners, having tired the Andhra bowlers with a 72. His 81-run partnership with Tehlan was the key for Delhi as this was the first pair that didn’t allow Andhra to dictate terms.
When the Andhra innings started, Delhi had only three regular bowlers to defend the total on a dead track in the absence of the experienced Ashish Nehra — Ishant Sharma, Amit Bhandari and Suhail Sharma.
Ishant took up the challenge, generating extra pace and bounce to force Andhra openers Manoj Sai and LN Prasada Reddy on to the back-foot.
After struggling against Ishant, Sai was the first to go, bowled by a sharp incoming delivery from the lanky Delhi pacer.
ASK Varma went next, caught smartly on his follow-through by Rajat Bhatia on the very first ball of his spell. Ishant then dealt the biggest blow when he removed Andhra skipper Y Venugopala Rao, trapped LBW after making four runs.
At stumps, Andhra were four down for 92, still 114 short of avoiding the follow on, with Reddy batting on 35 and RVC Prasad on 29.
Delhi still have a mathematical chance of qualifying for the knockout stage — they must win the match after enforcing the follow on in order to take full five points.
But Delhi skipper Manhas has other ideas. “We would try and bat again rather then enforcing the follow on if that situation comes.
“The wicket may break further to assist the bowlers on the last day,” said the captain.