Well begun is half the job done. It stayed that way for Delhi on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, as they frittered away a dream start under the circumstances and lost to Bengal by two wickets to be knocked out of the competition. Bengal batsman Manoj Tiwary’s unbeaten 96 was the highlight in a close finish.
Packing the side with four spinners on a wicket where the ball turned significantly, Delhi were lucky to be sent in as Bengal thought they would make use of the moisture on the pitch which delayed the start and cut the match to 47 overs per side. Their hopes dried out as fast as the wetness and the new ball bowlers put in a wayward show that helped Aakash Chopra and Manan Sharma put on 79 in 14.4 overs.
Playing his first season, Sharma was the dominant partner. With the ball coming nicely onto the bat initially, the left-hander drove smoothly in the cover-point region and also clipped a few fours over mid-wicket from the middle-leg line. It was because of his enterprise that Delhi made 99 runs in the power play overs, reduced to 18.
The innings started degenerating following Chopra’s run out and the captain’s senior colleagues in an inexperienced set-up — Mithun Manhas and Rajat Bhatia — fell in the same manner.
Bengal skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla’s wicket-to-wicket gentle medium and Iresh Saxena’s sharp left-arm spin from a consistent off-stump line did pin them down, but the three run outs hurt them the most.
Their eventual total was looking distant at 159/8 in the 39th over and Delhi owed it to a desperate 50-run stand between Punit Bisht and Praeep Sangwan.
Of the three they grassed, two catches were offered by Shukla, but that didn’t cost much. The first one cost them the match. Tiwary was on 10 and Bengal were a shaky 46/2 in the 13th over when Chetnya Nanda’s spin took the outside edge and the ball slipped out of wicketkeeper Bisht’s gloves.
The Delhi Daredevils right-hander didn’t err again and shepherded Bengal home with a high-class innings coming off 106 balls.
TN stun Mumbai
Tamil Nadu beat Mumbai to book their berths in the semifinals. Put to bat, Tamil Nadu had lost opener Abhinav Mukund for a duck. However, Junior Srikkanth, Anirudha came up with a defiant 67 and later skipper Ravichandran Ashwin chipped in with a quickfire 46 as Tamil Nadu notched up a challenging 252 for nine in the stipulated 50 overs.
For Mumbai, left arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla returned with figures of three for 43. Chasing, Mumbai did not have any partnership going and lost wickets at regular intervals as they were bundled out for 196 in 45.5 overs.