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Jadeja, Sarandeep steady Delhi

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, NOV. 25. Harvinder Singh's triple blow brought Delhi to its knees before Ajay Jadeja helped the host stagger to 179 for six at stumps against Railways on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy Elite group match at the Jamia Millia ground here on Thursday.

Reduced to 30 for five midway through the first session, Delhi recovered through two half-century partnerships involving Jadeja. Fresh from a century against Andhra last week, Jadeja began the repair work with Varun Kumar and raised 56 runs for the sixth wicket. Once Sarandeep Singh replaced Varun, Delhi did not give Railways another reason to celebrate for nearly three hours. In the process, Jadeja and Sarandeep put on 93 for the on-going seventh-wicket stand.

On a pitch known for its placid nature, Jadeja and Sarandeep did not give Railways any chance and showed that runs could be accumulated with patience. Jadeja cracked 74 with nine boundaries while Sarandeep withstood the pressure very well and contributed 31 inclusive of two hits to the fence. The second new ball made no impact on the pair and those in the Delhi dressing room could breath a lot easier.

But things were a lot different for the better part of the day. With conditions aiding seam movement, the top-order Delhi batsmen fell to Harvinder before the run-out of Mithun Manhas added to the host's agony.

Akash Chopra departed in the first over with Sanjay Bangar latching on to the catch at second slip after it eluded J. P. Yadav's grasp. Shikhar Dhawan and Rajat Bhatia offered regulation catches to wicket-keeper Sudhir Wankhede to give Harvinder a flattering analysis of 3.3-3-6-3 at this stage.

But it was the dismissal of Manhas that hurt Delhi the most. After playing to mid-on, Abhinav Bali called for a run but turned back. By this time, Manhas had joined him in the race to reach the striker's end. Although Raja Ali's throw beat bowler Harvinder, the batsmen were busy asking each other to make a dash to the other end. This gave time to Sidharth Verma to dive at cover to stop the ball and relay it to Harvinder. The bowler fumbled again but had enough time to recover and do the needful.

Bali, however, did not last long as he played and missed an armer from left-arm spinner G. Shankar Rao. The post-lunch session saw Kulamani Parida lure Varun Kumar to his doom, with Harvinder bringing off a diving catch at backward square-leg.

The scores:

Delhi — 1st innings: Akash Chopra c Bangar b Harvinder 0, Shikhar Dhawan c Wankhede b Harvinder 3, Rajat Bhatia c Wankhede b Harvinder 4, Mithun Manhas (run out) 10, Abhinav Bali b Rao 8, Ajay Jadeja (batting) 74, Varun Kumar c Harvinder b Parida 30, Sarandeep Singh (batting) 31, Extras (b-8, lb-6, nb-5) 19, Total (for six wickets) 179.

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-7, 3-13, 4-23, 5-30, 6-86.

Railways bowling: Harvinder Singh 18-6-45-3, J. P. Yadav 20-9-34-0, G. Shankar Rao 18-9-17-1, Sanjay Bangar 16-3-32-0, Yere Goud 2-0-5-0, Kulamani Parida 17-6-32-1.

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