Rajneesh Gurbani hat-trick puts Vidarbha in the ascendancy
Day 2 had all the elements of a thriller - a hattrick, a mini-collapse, vociferous appeals and drama before the end of day’s play.
The Ranji Trophy final is nicely poised at the moment. Vidarbha ended the second day at 206/4, trailing by 89 runs. It would have been a perfect day for them had they not lost the set batsman Apoorv Wankhade just two overs before stumps. However, the ever-reliable Wasim Jaffer is still at the crease along with nightwatchman Akshay Wakhare.
Delhi started the day at 271/6 and much depended on the overnight batsman Dhruv Shorey to take his side's total past 325. However, Shorey needed the support of the lower order batsmen.
Vikas Mishra hung in there and as the partnership grew, Vidarbha quickly needed to find a way to break the stand that was threatening to take the game away from them.
Gurbani rocks Delhi lower order
On Day 1, Rajneesh Gurbani looked uncomfortable and walked off the field in the 67th over itself. An ankle injury prevented him from taking any further part on Day 1. However, he came back on Day 2 and sprung into life almost immediately, much to the relief of Vidarbha.
Gurbani triggered Delhi's collapse in spectacular fashion. He first bowled a beauty to get rid of Mishra who had survived for 81 balls until then. The ball came back in sharply and hit the off stump. On the very next ball, he removed Saini with one that tailed back in and knocked down the middle stump. Gurbani was on a hat-trick but had to wait until his next over to deliver the crucial hat-trick ball.
In the next over that was bowled by Thakare, Shorey was dropped by Wankhede at third man. However, that drop didn’t prove costly as Gurbani returned to complete his hattrick. In the process, he became only the second bowler, after B Kalyanasundaram, to take a hat-trick in a Ranji Trophy final. He added another wicket to his tally when he dismissed the last man Khejroliya to finish with magnificent figures of 6/59 in 24.4 overs.
It was an incredible collapse as Delhi lost their last 4 wickets in the space of 13 balls.
Vidarbha's opener Faiz Fazal and Sanjay Ramaswamy then saw off the tricky opening period before lunch without any hiccup.
Vidarbha lose openers after a solid start
After the lunch interval though, Delhi's bowlers began to make inroads. Akash Sudan ended the 96-run opening partnership when he dismissed Ramaswamy. It was the breakthrough that Delhi desperately needed. He then got the prized wicket of Vidarbha captain Fazal who played a loose shot without moving his feet, nicking off to the keeper.
Jaffer leads Vidarbha
Ganesh Satish then survived a close LBW appeal just before tea. The decision could have gone either way. However, he couldn’t do much with the bat after the interval as Saini delivered a ball that jagged back in to hit him on the pads. This time, the umpire raised his finger. Three quick wickets infused life into the Delhi camp.
Saini and Khejroliya were charging in and bowling with serious pace. Run-scoring meanwhile was difficult as Vidarbha looked to rebuild. Jaffer and Wankhade then stitched an important 73-run partnership before Khejroliya got the wicket of Wankhade during the fag end of the day.
The wicket of Wankhade has ensured the game still hangs in the balance. Vidarbha will need Jaffer to carry on while Delhi will look to get a couple of quick wickets on Day 3.