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Shib Sankar Paul rattles Delhi

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: To attribute Shib Sankar Paul's six-wicket haul to assistance from the pitch at the Jamia Millia ground would be unfair to the Bengal speedster. He produced speed in the opening session and later subtle change of pace to send Delhi crashing on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy elite league match here on Thursday.

Electing to bat, Delhi put up an abysmal display and was bowled out for a paltry 148. Skipper Amit Bhandari termed it appropriately as "poor" batting by the top order. As dusk descended at the picturesque venue, Bengal finished at 11 for two.

"I just concentrated on line and length. I wanted to deny them runs because it was not an easy pitch to bat on. I had to work hard to get the ball to `carry' but I enjoyed bowling on this pitch," said Paul with humility after taking three wickets each from either end.

No devil in the pitch

There was no devil in the pitch. Aakash Chopra was deceived by late swing; Shikhar Dhawan played back in a gross error of judgment. Varun Kumar, a misfit at number three, stepped out irresponsibly. He was bowled and could have been easily stumped too. Rajat Bhatia paid the penalty for reading too much and faltering when offering defence. Pradeep Chawla, who has looked the most confident batsman in this team along with Mithun Manhas, played across, as did Chetnya Nanda and Amit Bhandari.

Only Manhas was out to an astounding piece of work behind the stumps by former Test wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta. Of course, Manhas failed in his intended pull shot, gloved the ball and Dasgupta, having anticipated, flung himself to his left and came up with a spectacular catch.

Manhas, in his 73-ball essay, had looked good for a long innings; so had Bhatia, who batted 62 balls. But Chawla was the pick with his temperament and shot selection during his 98-ball knock. Sarandeep Singh could have extended his stay but for an indiscreet slog. If only the home batsmen had applied better since Bhandari rightly noted, "you have to earn your runs at this venue because the outfield is slow. We just did not show the patience to graft. It is now the responsibility of the bowlers to deliver."

The scores: Delhi — 1st innings: A. Chopra c Dasgupta b Paul 0, S. Dhawan b Lahiri 8, Varun Kumar b Paul 20, M. Manhas c Dasgupta b Paul 20, R. Bhatia b Paul 25, P. Chawla lbw b Paul 33, Sarandeep c Paul b Singh 17, C. Nanda lbw b Paul 13, K. Lall (not out) 2, A. Bhandari lbw b Paul 0, R. Sanghvi (run out) 0. Extras (b-2, lb-2, nb-6): 10. Total (in 78.5 overs) 148.

Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-23, 3-34, 4-77, 5-82, 6-126, 7-145, 8-148, 9-148.

Bengal bowling: Paul 19-7-25-6, Bose 14-4-22-0, Lahiri 24-3-59-2, Sagar Singh 17.5-3-29-1, Tewari 3-1-4-0, Gandhi 1-0-5-0.

Bengal — 1st innings: A. Das c Bhatia b Sarandeep 3, S. Das (batting) 7, S.S. Singh b Nanda 0. Extras (nb-1): 1. Total (for two wkts., in 8.4 overs): 11.

Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-11.

Delhi bowling: Bhandari 3-1-5-0, Lall 2-0-3-0, Sarandeep 2-2-0-1, Nanda 1.4-0-3-1.

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