Virat Kohli couldn’t have chosen a better venue to start his captaincy than the historic Roshanara ground. It was here that the legendary Sir Jack Hobbs had turned out for a match in 1930.
Standing up for his team, the young Kohli came up with an unbeaten 88 to lead Delhi to an eight-wicket win against Saurashtra on Friday.
Looking down the barrel after the innings defeat to Uttar Pradesh, the 2007-08 champions now seem to be doing fine in this Ranji season.
Needing just three wickets to end Saurashtra’s second innings, the Delhi bowlers got to work right away. A rising delivery from Parvinder Awana took Sandip Maniar by surprise and the top edge landed in Kohli’s hands at gully.
Pawan Suyal took over and consumed Balkrishna Jadeja and Jayesh Odedra in the space of three deliveries and the innings folded up at 214. In the 69 minutes Saurashtra spent at the wicket this morning, the batsmen could add a mere 33 runs to the overnight 181.
Needing 160 for an outright win, Delhi accomplished the job with relative ease with Kohli and Mithun Manhas (23) remaining unbeaten.
Warhorse Sandeep Jobanputra raised visions of a fightback by foxing Aditya Jain (10). An away-moving delivery clipped the opener’s bat and wicketkeeper Sagar Jogiyani did the rest.
Controversy raised its head when Jobanputra appeared to have run out Ankur Julka at the non-striker’s end. It was a firm hit off Kohli’s bat and the ball hit the stumps after brushing Jobanputra’s palm. The benefit of doubt went to Julka as the umpires were uncertain. Later, umpires’ coach, S.K. Bansal, confirmed that Julka had made his ground.
The opener finally fell to Ravindra Jadeja for 33. Kohli and Manhas then took over and ensured there no twists in the plot.
“It feels good when you win your first game as captain and also get to contribute,” said an elated Kohli.
Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Shah termed the 141-run stand between Bisht and Pradeep Sangwan as the “turning point”.
With nine points from four matches, Delhi are safely placed in the Elite pool table — a massive swing after being above bottom-placed Maharashtra at the start of this leg.
They now take on Maharashtra from Tuesday at this venue and a win will leave them fancying their chances of being among the top three of Group B.
Coach Vijay Dahiya too was a happy man. “A win against a team like Saurashtra has given us confidence and we’ll look to do better from here.”
Praising Kohli’s knock, he said, “He is a fine batsman and his captainship is an addition.”