Debutant Sharmas do it for Delhi
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Debutant Sharmas do it for Delhi

Friday perhaps signalled a new beginning and the beginning of the end for Delhi's corrupt officialdom.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2006 22:18 IST

Friday perhaps signalled a new beginning and the beginning of the end for Delhi's corrupt officialdom. For on Friday, a team made up of people selected purely on merit played and triumphed, in many ways, against the odds. Or perhaps, despite them.

There were quite a few architects behind this success story - an imaginative captain, a bunch of gutsy selectors and more then anyone else, two young men who displayed some exemplary courage to execute the job on their very first day in a "crowded" field. It's of course, much too early to jump to any definite conclusions. But their 10-wicket victory over their guests from the Kashmir Valley in their opening Ranji North Zone one-day encounter, could well be that much-needed first step in the direction towards redemption.

The day belonged to two Delhi debutants, paceman Ishant Sharma (4/34) and offie Suhail Sharma (3/18), for bundling J&K out for a paltry 106 in just 35.4 overs. In reply, Delhi's two experienced openers — Shikhar Dhawan (55 not out) and Aakash Chopra (43 not out) — responded with newfound touch to fetch an extra bonus point for Delhi.

However, more than the result, what stood out most in the minds of those watching, was the almost single-handed domination over bat of the lanky under-19 paceman Ishant. He doesn't look your prototype, aggressive paceman and many coaches would probably be unwilling to bet too much on this 6'4'' youngster at first glance. But hand him the ball and he becomes someone else. Ishant came on to bowl his maiden Ranji over with the visitors sitting pretty at 44 for no loss after 10 overs on the flat Kotla track. Delhi skipper Mitthun Manhas chose this time to introduce his new bowler into the attack as the first "Power Play" ended.

It was a simple reason — to provide his debutant the cushion of some extra fielders in the outfield. Still, after watching the J&K openers deal with the experienced Amit Bhandari and Kuunal Lall with relative ease (both were unfortunately, quite ineffective) Manhas was probably hesitant to put Ishant in at this stage.

Ishant too looked a bit nervous. His first three balls were all shortpitched, as if he was desperately trying to be normal under abnormal circumstances. Manhas pushed his fielders out wider to encourage the rookie paceman to pitch up without worry. And it helped.

The next ball was a beauty. A Just short of length delivery deviated slightly to tear apart the defence of opener Arshad Bhatt. Every player rushed towards Ishant to congratulate him for his maiden first-class wicket. It was a similar kind of scene two balls after when the other opener, Fayaz Hazari, guided his skitters to the safe hands of slip fielder Dhawan.

Fellow debutant Suhail joined in the party a little later. At 24, the offie looked mature enough to handle the pressure of top-class cricket. Right from the start, he bowled a disciplined line and never allowed the batsmen any room to go for shots.

The result of his strict line paid off soon as the J&K players faltered under the pressure of keeping up the momentum. A run out by Abhinav Bali from point, fol lowed by two more scalps to Ishant in his fourth over set the tone for the day.

Suhail, too, got his reward for his consistent line with three wickets in the space of five deliveries in his eighth and ninth overs. His figures of 10-2-18-3 were a fine tribute to all the hard work of this budding all-rounder.

The rest, a target of 107, was always a formality. However, the way it was achieved was a bit different. Both Dhawan and Chopra handled and hammered J&K's promising speedster Abid Nabi and his partners so effectively, that there was absolutely no way the visitors would have saved the bonus point. Watching them play their shots so freely was probably a fitting tribute to their young team-mates for providing them such a wonderful platform.

Hopefully, this is welcome to the new Delhi!


Jammu & Kashmir Arshad Bhatt b Ishant 24 F Hazari c Dhawan b Ishant 22 Kanwaljeet run out (Bali) 1 Dhruv Mahajan not out 29 Mayank Goswami b Ishant 6 Shashi Kumar b Ishant 0 Inderjeet run out (Manhas) 11 Sameer Khaturia b Suhail 0 Shafqat Baba b Suhail 0 Abid Nabi c Chopra b Suhail 0 Raman Dutta c Bhatia b Nanda 4 Extras (lb-1, w-1, nb-7) 9 Total (all out in 35.4 overs) 106 Fall of wkts: 1-46, 2-47, 3-47, 4-56, 5-57, 6-84, 7-89, 8-91, 9-91. Bowling: Amit Bhandari 5-0-20-0, Kuunal Lall 7-1-29-0, Ishant Sharma 9-1-34-4, Suhail Sharma 10-218-3, Chetanya Nanda 4.4-2-4-1. Delhi Shikhar Dhawan not out 55 Aakash Chopra not out 43 Extras (lb-6, w-3, nb-2) 11 Total (for no loss in 15.5 ovs) 109 Bowling: Nabi 5-1-33-0, Baba 4-031-0, Mahajan 2-0-20-0, Khajuria 3-1-9-0, Dutta 1.5-0-10-0.

First Published: Feb 12, 2006 22:18 IST