Over the past two seasons, Delhi opener Shikhar Dhawan has flattered to deceive. The skipper, fondly known as Gabbar among his teammates due to his at times uncalculated aggression, has been an India hopeful for long. Despite a good start in the Duleep Trophy and Challenger series, he has failed to put pressure on Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir due to a lack of big scores in the Ranji Trophy.
On Tuesday though, he hit a well-paced, unbeaten 116 that not only revived his case but crucially helped Delhi beat Maharashtra by seven wickets and catapult to third in Group B and stay in contention for a knockout berth.
Coming into this innings, Dhawan had faced questions about his temperament. "Two years back, my reckless shot cost Delhi a match against Railways. I wanted to redeem myself," the 27-year-old, who has played five ODIs, said.
The pitch was fresh and fellow opener Unmukt Chand was again out cheaply. But Dhawan showed great application as Delhi chased 270 for victory, after conceding the first innings lead. "I had to bat the first session carefully," he said. He made 42 in the morning that included some rasping shots, including on-drive that sent the ball into the shrubs, a flick past square leg and a cover drive. Mohit Sharma (51) survived a few lbw appeals during a 94-run stand before he was out at the stroke of lunch.
The Delhi batsmen went berserk on return. Mithun Manhas smashed a 40-ball 51, hitting sixes over extra cover, third man and square leg. Dhawan too opened up. His first fifty came off 120 balls, but the second took just 65 balls. Delhi travel to Nagpur and play Vidarbha. Coach Sanjeev Sharma said, “This is the best innings I've seen by a Delhi batsman in recent times.”
ONGC wins in league
Suhail Sharma's six-wicket haul helped ONGC beat DDA in DDCA league. In other matches, Lalit Choudhary's 98 for Ajmal Khan, Sultan Ansari's 80 for CWC and Parshant Chand's six wickets for Paragon helped their teams win.