Delhi pull back cruising UP after aggressive Gambhir takes charge
During the first half of Saturday's play, Delhi skipper Virender Sehwag stood stone-faced in the slips as a fieldsman in the deep fidgeted with his headgear and position. Khurram Habib reports.cricket Updated: Nov 03, 2012 23:56 IST
During the first half of Saturday's play, Delhi skipper Virender Sehwag stood stone-faced in the slips as a fieldsman in the deep fidgeted with his headgear and position. In the second half, Delhi's stand-in skipper Gautam Gambhir, rather tersely, pulled up Milind Kumar --- substituting for the injured Sehwag --- for stopping inches short of the spot he'd been assigned.
The second day of the Ranji Trophy tie between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, apart from witnessing classy batting from Mohammad Kaif and young Mukul Dagar, also saw two different leaders --- laidback Sehwag, and an aggressive Gambhir.
Delhi's fate swung with their captaincy. If the morning belonged to UP batsmen, Kaif and Dagar, with Delhi going through the motions, the afternoon was very much Delhi's with its pacemen wreaking havoc. 112 runs came in the first session as the UP duo tamed the likes of Ashish Nehra and Ishant Sharma. Such was their domination of the poor, short-pitched bowling that Dagar stayed entirely on the back-foot to pierce the field, and Kaif hit some brilliant fours on the up, and even disdainfully hooked Nehra for a six.
In the second session, five wickets fell for 44 runs --- from 232/1, UP became 276/6. The architect was Gambhir, engineering the fall through his pacemen, animated gestures, a few harsh words and imaginative field placement.
While Kaif and Dagar were on song, Sehwag's injury came as a blessing in disguise. An edge off Kaif's bat flew past the outstretched hands of Sehwag, ripping the skin of his finger. The Delhi skipper was rushed to a hospital adjacent to the ground, and didn't return to the field. Gambhir took over and brought in his trusted soldier, Sumit Narwal.
The change worked.
After Kaif fell leg before to left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra, Dagar missed the line and was bowled by Narwal.
"He has always been an aggressive skipper. That's why he does well. You've seen it in the limited opportunities he has got to lead. In his first stint as Delhi captain in 2008-09, he led them to the Ranji title… he then led the Kolkata Knight Riders to IPL title," said his longtime coach Sanjay Bhardwaj. "You'll always see him busy and he gets the desired results."
After getting rid of the duo, Gambhir brought himself into an innovative fielding position on the edge of the pitch, trying to unnerve the batsmen. He left a wide gap through the covers. In the space of the next eight overs, three more wickets fell, all caught behind the wicket, the batsmen attempting to drive through the area left vacant. The bowlers' length had suddenly changed. Narwal took two of them, while Ishant snared one. Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya did admit that there was a difference in the style of captaincy of the two Delhi stalwarts.
Dahiya also confirmed that all's well with Sehwag. "He went for a checkup and everything's fine. We'll keep him under observation for the next 24 hours. He will play if he is needed," said Dahiya.