While Gautam Gambhir was on 147 on Saturday, a few kids with autograph books in hand walked across the sightscreen even as the bowler was in his run-up. Any batsman would have walked away and taken fresh guard only after they’d been sent off.
But Gambhir stepped out and hit the ball through extra cover for a four to reach 150.
The stroke showcased the confidence and focus that Gambhir had gathered through the day as he led Delhi onto the threshold of victory against Haryana at the Roshanara Club.
Although the knock ended soon after that shot – at 153 – Gambhir had done enough to remind the selectors, who meet on Monday in Vadodara, that there is a lot left in him and, by virtue of this knock, is a prime contender for the month-long tour of South Africa.
He had come into this game on the back of some scratchy but gritty knocks.
Saturday looked no different against some disciplined bowling and testing times. In between some well-timed strokes, he was beaten a few times and found some thick edges. But none of them was harmful as he and Unmukt Chand played within themselves and saw off a crucial period. Unmukt was dismissed leg before and Virender Sehwag followed soon after, caught in first slip after smashing a four through point.
A determined Gambhir then stitched partnerships with Mithun Mahas (36) and Rajat Bhatia (56), and grew in confidence. While his first 50 took 98 balls, the second came off 77 while the third came in a jiffy — off just 34 balls. With time, he found the meat of the bat and on occasions, even stepped out to smash the bowlers over the infield.
Delhi set Haryana a target of 376 runs, but the visitors caved in. After being 44 without loss, they ended the day at 63/5, in fact losing four wickets for one run.