The first day of the Delhi-Karnataka contest saw two important lessons hammered home. While Delhi showed how not to bat on a green, seaming wicket, Vinay Kumar, Karnataka’s new-ball bowler, gave a near-perfect demonstration of how to bowl on such a track.
The stocky right-arm bowler held an immaculate line and length to use the ‘help’ in the track, and finished with a career-best eight-wicket haul to bowl out Delhi for just 154. Karnataka, in reply, were cruising along at 91 for 2 at stumps.
Vinay bowled right up to the batsmen to make them play almost every delivery. And with his out swing going great guns, he forced the batsmen to edge to the waiting slip cordon, and, on other occasions, rattled the stumps. The wicket offered good movement and bounce, but one still needed to bowl well to make the best of it, clearly underscored by the fact that no other bowler picked up more than one wicket.
Delhi, of course, would be extremely disappointed with their batting. Yes, it wasn’t easy to bat on this track in the morning, and that too when someone bowled as well as Vinay did, but that did not justify being bowled out so cheaply. “I don’t think there was a lack of application. The wicket had a lot of moisture and the ball was darting around. So, it was really tough to bat on this wicket,” said skipper Aakash Chopra.
What hurt Delhi the most was that no batsman showed the stomach to fight it out in tough conditions and followed each other to the pavilion in a procession. Chopra left early, caught in the slips, but Shikhar Dhawan managed top hang around for more than one-and-a-half hours. He had begun looking in control when Abhimanyu Mithun opened him up, and Manish Pandey took a brilliant catch in the slips. In the meantime, Vinay had removed Gaurav Chabra and Abhishek Sharma to push Delhi neck-deep into trouble. Later, Mayank Tehlan looked somewhat in control, but Vinay did not relent and, bowling his second marathon spell (he bowled 21.4 overs in spells of 10 and 11.4 overs, respectively), picked up the last five wickets to snuff out all hopes of a Delhi revival.
Delhi would do well to take a leaf from Dravid’s batting book on how to slug it out in bowler friendly conditions. The middle-order batsman, along with opener KB Pawan, handled the Delhi bowlers without fuss. The duo left good balls alone and dispatched bad ones to the boundary. And that’s exactly what Delhi failed to do.