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Gone in eight minutes

The news that Yuvraj was playing, spread pretty quickly. Everyone wanted to watch Yuvraj bat, wanted a front row seat to see his comeback to domestic cricket, reports Arjun Sen.

india Updated: Nov 03, 2008 23:08 IST
Arjun Sen

The bowlers were wayward and the batsmen wary.

Apart from eight minutes between 11.50 am and 11.58, the first day of the Ranji Trophy match between Delhi and Punjab at the Roshanara Club was rather soporific.

The man responsible for those rare minutes of excitement was a certain Yuvraj Singh, who lasted all of six balls for his duck in Punjab's first innings. The visitors put in to bat, finished the day on a modest 237/5, with Sunny Sohal (110) scoring almost half of those runs with a workmanlike maiden first-class century.

Everyone wanted to watch Yuvraj bat, everyone wanted a front row seat to see his comeback to domestic cricket. However, with Yuvraj slated to come in at No.4, and the batsmen before him hardly being troubled by Delhi's pace attack, the wait became much longer than most would have hoped.

Ravi Inder Singh (37) and Sohal came together in the seventh over after Ashish Nehra had Karan Goel (2) playing on to a delivery that kept low. The two batted with a lot of authority, and hardly any aggression, to build a 63-run stand and negate whatever assistance the Delhi bowlers were extracting.

To the Delhi bowlers’ credit, however, whenever they did manage to induce the edges, the ball fell short of the slips. This happened almost eight to nine times in the morning.

Then, in the 28th over of the day, the moment finally arrived. Goel could only top-edge a Pradeep Sangwan delivery into Virat Kohli’s hands and in walked Yuvraj. He was closely watching the ball into his bat, looking to play himself in, when, off the last ball of Sangwan’s over, Yuvraj gave Shikhar Dhawan a simple catch at first slip off the final ball. Punjab had lost two wickets for 12 runs, and Delhi had a chance of getting a few more after lunch.

Sohal, however, had other ideas. A confident display from the 20-year-old kept Delhi at bay and helped push the Punjab score up. His 261-minute stay in the middle ended when a rush of blood had him trying to clear the infield off Chetnya Nanda.

It was a day of cricket, at the end of which, neither team would be content or concerned. While Delhi’s decision to field on a wicket that eased out rather rapidly after a small period of assistance for the fast bowlers, doesn’t seem to have hit them too hard just yet, Punjab would believe they have a platform from which their overnight pair, Uday Kaul (28) and Ankur Kakkar (30), can build a partnership.