Finally, there was some positive play by Baroda during the last 76 minutes at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground on Monday. Though it came much after their failed attempt to restrict the Delhi batsmen, but it was enough to keep them active on the final day of their third Ranji Trophy match.
Falling behind Delhi's first innings total by 249 runs, Baroda openers Rishikesh Parab and Connon William came back to the pavilion unharmed after a 16-over new-ball assault by the Delhi bowlers. Baroda were 35 for no loss in their second essay in reply to Delhi's first innings total of 493.
However, the day again belonged to Delhi batsman Mayank Tehlan, who resumed at his overnight score of 108. Tehlan showed the same grit and composure to reach his first career double century. It looked as if he was out to prove his words right from the start of the day's play.
When asked if he was satisfied with his first hundred of the season or planned to carry on for some more time, Tehlan said at the end of the second day's play on Sunday: “I've always converted my centuries into big hundreds, whether it was my debut Ranji match or in junior cricket.”
Tehlan was indeed lucky to have an able partner like Rajat Bhatia at the other end, who reached his second century of the season. On a day when the Delhi batsmen were under pressure to go for some quick runs, Bhatia took off pressure from his well-set partner by picking gaps at regular intervals. The two sixes Bhatia hit off left-arm spinner Rajesh Pawar soon after coming to the wicket made Baroda’s task even more difficult.
Pawar completely changed his line to outside the leg-stump after that. Things became so frustrating for the two Delhi batsmen that they were seen playing only the sweep shot for the most part of the morning session.
The two umpires were also not pleased with the way the two Baroda spinners, Pawar and Pathan, were sticking to a well-planned negative line. Pawar’s one delivery, slightly outside the leg-stump, was even declared a wide to make him realise his error, though the men from Baroda did not show any improvement.
Soon after reaching his 200, Tehlan probably just gave himself up.
The 540-minute battle against negative bowling seemed to have taken its toll. As the Delhi dressing room was obviously getting desperate for some quick runs, Tehlan decided to pass on the baton to a fresh pair of legs by gifting his wicket to Yousuf.
Bhatia, on the other end, continued his run towards the century mark. The only time he got bogged down was when he was nearing his ton. But a 24-minute extension to the second session before tea helped him finally reach his milestone. His 106 runs came in 218 balls with the help of six boundaries and two clear hits.
The first session on Monday now holds the key for Delhi. With an outright victory well in sight, it would be an acid test for not only Ashish Nehra, Kunnal Lall and Ishant Sharma, but can also decide the future of the controversial off-spinner Yogesh Sachdeva.