Delhi stumbled to their 252-run target in the last hour of the final day, but eventually came out trumps by four wickets against Uttar Pradesh at Palam ‘A’ Ground. That meant they were second in Group A, behind Karnataka, while Suresh Raina’s men continued to languish second from last.
The day began with UP on 223 for 7, after a security breach had ended the game early on the third evening. The loss of those 20 minutes and the associated momentum was swelled with the loss of overnight centurion Akshdeep Nath early in the day when he got a thick inside edge to short midwicket off Navdeep Saini.
The fast bowler then took two more wickets as UP were bowled out for 229, leaving Delhi little more than two sessions to get to the target. They lost Gautam Gambhir early when he slashing outside off and nicked to the wicketkeeper. Dhruv Shorey looked every bit as assured as he was in the first innings, and took charge in his partnership with Unmukt Chand.
However, extra bounce did him while he attempted one more of many cover drives on the up. He ended up scooping it to point. Unmukt and Nitish Rana, however, played calm knocks under pressure as they put up 71 to bring Delhi within 122 runs of victory with eight wickets in hand. But Unmukt and Nitish Rana’s dismissals for were out for 49 and 67 left Delhi needing 65 in the final session.
Milind Kumar, who put together 52 with Rana, held one end up as Rishabh Pant took the bowlers on. As Delhi neared the target, UP slowed things down, with Ankit Rajpoot taking an injury break that lasted nearly six minutes. As if that was a warning sign to him, Pant skipped down the track against spinner Saurabh Kumar in the next over and drilled him over long on.
The battle was won by the spinner, however, as he pushed one through Pant’s defend and forced him to play on. At this point, Delhi needed 28. Manan Sharma, who has been pushed into an all-round role for Delhi this season, made a nervous start, and fell to a poke.
With 21 to get, Delhi made a move that would ensure Milind wouldn’t have to switch gears by promoting Saini ahead of Pulkit Narang. The motive was visible as early as the second fall Saini faced as he looked to heave across the line against Rajpoot. It was a big edge that flew past the keeper for four.
Saini walked down the track to bump fists with Milind, without bothering to look where the ball had gone. He slapped the fast bowler to the midwicket boundary next over, and it was followed by a loft over mid-on from Milind as Delhi entered the half-hour extension needing two runs for a win. Saini got them with a clobbered six over long-on. The match was won and the campaign was alive.
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo