Vijay Hazare Trophy: Delhi book semifinal berth

 Vijay Hazare Trophy: Delhi book semifinal berthNew Delhi: Delhi booked their berth in the semifinals of Vijay Hazare trophy as the host beat Railways by seven wickets at the Feroze Shah Kotla ground here on Thursday.

Fortunes favoured the hosts once again as their skipper called it right with the coin and once again they decided to field first. On a surface, where the ball is seaming and stopping at the same time, it’s always going to be difficult for the batsmen. Like in the previous matches, Delhi’s opening bowlers Parvinder Awana and Pawan Suyal made use of the conditions and took some early wickets. Both the openers were back in pavilion before eight overs being bowled.

Captain Sanjay Bangar, who came second down, was trapped lbw for none by Pawan Suyal, putting Services in big trouble. In the middle overs, Rajat Bhatia bowled a splendid spell taking three wickets. Batsmen were able to score some quick runs only in the later half of the innings, thanks to a crucial knock of 59 runs played by Ashish Yadav. His partnership of 52 runs with Dhiren Salvi rescued them from a humiliating defeat. Dhiren Salvi was dropped by Shikar, but could not make use of the ‘life’ given by the opposition and fell in the very next over off Rajat Bhatia.

Chasing a target of 175 runs on a pitch which has turned batting friendly in the afternoon, there was no real threat for Delhi and they just had to stick on to the basics to win the game. On the other hand, Railways had to come out with something extra ordinary for a miracle. But it just didn’t happen.

Shikar Dhavan continued his excellent run in the tournament with some splendid stroke play. The duo of Mohit Sharma and Shikar Dhavan sealed the game for Delhi with the help of a 97 runs partnership for the opening wicket. Shikar made 69 runs and was declared Man Of The Match. Gautam Gambhir and Puneet Bisht took the team to 178 runs. Delhi there by registerd a thumping victory in 37.4 overs and book a berth in the semi finals, which will be played on March 10 against Mumbai.

Shikar Dhawan admitted to the fact that toss has been a crucial factor in all the matches played at kotla and said pitch is not suited for one day game. “It moves a lot in the morning and was helpful for the bowlers. It was a two paced wicket and produced extra bounce at times”. He added that he was disappointed with the way he got out, when asked whether a hundred was there on the cards.
Speaking on the decision to send Gambhir one down, he said it was a collective decision of the team. Regarding semi finals against Mumbai, Dashing Left hander said, it will be a tough competition and both the teams are balanced with Gambhir and Rohit Sharma missing out. He also added with a smile that toss is again going to be crucial.

When asked about the pitch, Railways coach Sharma said, “Wasim Jaffer and Robin had already talked about it yesterday, everyone heard it.” He said his job is to coach the team and added that, anyway things have been known to everyone by now through media.

Brief scores: railways- 175 all out in 49.1 overs; Delhi: 178/3 in 37.4 0vers

By Sudheer Babu                                                 
Photo by Hridi P Mohanta