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Captain's knock:Skipper Virat Kohli's century put Delhi in a strong position against Tamil Nadu on day one of the Ranji Trophy.
Chennai: Virat Kohli's second century in as many innings took Delhi to a solid 258 for three at the end of day one of its Ranji Trophy Elite Group ‘A' match against Tamil Nadu here on Wednesday.
Kohli, coming off a stroke-filled 173 against Bengal, was batting on 119 (219b, 11x4, 3x6) at close of play. He put on 190 for the third wicket with Mithun Manhas (70, 140b, 4x4, 2x6), before the Delhi skipper fell late in the day to the second new ball.
Tamil Nadu fielded three spinners, debutant M. Prabhu replacing the injured Lakshmipathy Balaji. The off-spinner made a promising start to his career, giving away just six runs in a 10-over spell before lunch.
Before Prabhu's introduction and his controlled bowling in tandem with fellow offie R. Ashwin, the left-handed Shikhar Dhawan had been dominant, driving, slashing and pulling the inexperienced Sunil Sam for a series of boundaries.
Dhawan fell for 41 (77b, 7x4), bowled around his legs trying to sweep Ashwin. His opening partner Chetan Sharma, another leftie, went soon after, nicking Prabhu to slip.
Kohli looked in superb touch right from the start, and pulled Ashwin for a big six over midwicket before driving him twice in his next over for fours, once to cover's right and once to his left, on bent knee.
Whatever purchase the bowlers found in the morning disappeared after lunch. Later, Kohli revealed that there were a couple of fresh patches of grass on the wicket in the morning that dried out as the day wore on.
As Kohli and Manhas grew in confidence, Tamil Nadu's tactics became more defensive. Seven-two and six-three fields predominated, with the spinners bowling into the emerging leg-side roughs.
Kohli still managed to find the boundaries regularly, stepping inside the line to drive left-arm spinner Aushik Srinivas inside-out, or going over the top when the length permitted. At the other end, Manhas nearly took his partner's head off with a flat-batted drive down the ground off Aushik.
Kohli went past his hundred soon after tea with a wristy on-drive for one. Asked whether there was any specific aspect of his game that he had worked on during his recent run of form (centuries in his last three innings, including an ODI against Australia at Visakhapatnam), he said that he had made a conscious effort to concentrate harder in the 70s and 80s, “the sort of time when you tend to lose focus.”
Late in the day, C. Ganapathy revived Tamil Nadu with the wicket of Manhas, trapping him on the shuffle with one that came back in. Delhi suffered another blow soon after, Rajat Bhatia retiring hurt after Ganapathy struck him on the bottom hand with one that reared spitefully off the seam.
Tamil Nadu then missed a glorious opportunity to end the day on a high, Aushik dropping Kohli when he was on 112, spilling his skied pull off Ganapathy after running in from long leg.
Delhi — first innings: C. Sharma c Badrinath b Prabhu 11, S. Dhawan b Ashwin 41, V. Kohli (batting) 119, M. Manhas lbw b Ganapathy 70, R. Bhatia (retd. hurt) 1, P. Bisht (batting) 5; Extras (b-3, lb-5, nb-3): 11. Total (for three wkts. in 88 overs): 258.
Fall of wickets: 1-53, 2-55, 3-245.
Tamil Nadu bowling: Ganapathy 13-3-23-1, Sam 13-2-51-0, Ashwin 23-5-75-1, Prabhu 14-6-34-1, Aushik 18-2-53-0, Sathish 6-2-9-0, Abhinav 1-0-5-0 .
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