It's easy to lose focus in domestic cricket for someone who's just scored a top class match-winning hundred in international cricket. Virat Kohli, however, displayed the same desire and determination to succeed against Bengal as he did against the Australians a few days back.
That his focus didn't waver a bit was largely due to the fact that he had anticipated it coming. “When you are in good form, you tend to get carried away. But I am really focused on doing well in the Ranji Trophy,” Kohli said a day before the start of the match.
And he didn't let himself nor his team down as he came up with a classy 173, his highest in the first-class cricket, on Wednesday. With Bengal amassing 473 runs in their first innings, Delhi desperately needed someone to play a big hand.
Kohli did just that, but, despite his heroics, Delhi still need 146 runs more with just four wickets in hand to take a first innings lead as they finished the day at 328 for 6.
Kohli went about building his innings with grace and authority. The drives through covers and straight past the bowlers came thick and fast, and soon he reached the three-figure mark, studded with 15 boundaries.
But even as he looked little troubled by the bowlers, the other batsmen failed to cash in on a benign surface. Shikhar Dhawan looked good for many more when he was brilliantly caught behind for 42 off Laxmi Ratan Shukla.
Kohli and captain Mithun Manhas, however, stitched together a steady partnership of 137 to keep Delhi's chase well on the track. But a brilliant direct throw from Arindam Das caught Kohli short off his crease and that sparked a Delhi collapse. Delhi lost Gaurav Chabbra at the stroke of tea, and then, soon after the tea, Ashok Dinda had Manhas
caught behind and Punit Bisht at short-leg.
Despite Kohli's gritty knock, the Bengal bowlers, especially the medium pacers deserve praise to keeping it tidy on a flat track. They bowled a tight line and length and made the batsmen work for every single run. That Delhi could score just 239 runs in the day's play shows how accurate the Bengal bowlers were.
Fielding, too, deserves a special mention. The only mistake came when Iresh Saxena dropped Kohli when he was on 74. That lapse, however, cost Bengal dear.