New Delhi: A day that began with renewed hope for Tamil Nadu ended with the same disappointment that they met with on day one of their fourth-round Ranji Trophy match against Delhi at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. The hosts, resuming at 287 for 1, added 268 more on day two before declaring at a dominating 555 for 4, including two more centuries in the innings from Mohit Sharma and debutant Vaibhav Rawal.
Of the 268 runs Delhi scored on Sunday, 221 were added by Sharma (175) and Rawal (100*) for the fourth wicket - the second 200 partnership of the match after Shikhar Dhawan and Unmukt Chand did it on day one for the opening wicket.
Tamil Nadu then, battling for 9 overs before close of play, lost opener Abhinav Mukund in the first over bowled by Parvinder Awana without a run on the board but prevented any further damage to reach stumps at 31 for 1 with Arun Karthick (6*) and Baba Aparajith (25*) at the crease. Awana had figures of 1 for 11 in four overs on a day that fell 4 overs short of the stipulated 90 due to bad light.
Mohit Sharma (175) and Vaibhav Rawal (100*) added 221 runs on day two to take Delhi to 555/4 after which Awana removed Mukund early.
Having taken the new ball, available first up in the morning, Yo Mahesh and skipper Laxmipathy Balaji struck within the first six overs to remove overnight centurion Chand (138*) and Delhi's in-form captain Mithun Manhas for naught. While Mahesh had Chand - playing away from his body - caught behind to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, Balaji sent Manhas' stumps cartwheeling after he played slightly across.
But Sharma, beginning the day at 40*, had other ideas and reached fifty with a nice flick off his legs. The run-rate picked up thereafter with Sharma and Narwal helping Delhi add 51 runs in the first hour. The visitors could have taken another wicket in the first session when Sharma was dropped in the gully by Mukund. Mahesh had his head in his hands watching the ball pop out of Mukund's outstretched left hand. And at lunch Delhi were 383 for 3, with Sharma 10 runs away from his maiden first class century.
That moment didn't take long to come after the break. A crisp boundary over mid-on off left-arm spinner Aushik Sreenivas gave Sharma his century, which he celebrated with both arms raised towards the balcony. Sharma did have a stutter soon after when he was dropped on 113 in the slips. Offspinner Malolan Rangarajan got the nick he was searching for but it flew between the wicketkeeper and first slip.
Rawal meanwhile by now had a firm grip on how the wicket was behaving and reached his half century. Sharma didn't give Rangarajan another chance but in fact asserted himself by hitting the offie for a six over long-on. Tea followed soon with Delhi a comfortable 485 for 3.
Sharma came out smoking the bowlers after tea en route his 150 and Delhi's 500, which was raised in the 147th over. The Delhi youngster played some audacious strokes after that, including a paddle off a Mahesh over that accrued 15 runs. The last 11 overs of the Delhi innings produced 70 runs.
The fourth wicket for Tamil Nadu came about when Sharma was eyeing quick runs and Delhi declaration. On 175, he played across to Balaji and lost his stumps. His knock was punctuated with 28 fours and a six in 285 balls. By then, Rawal was within touching distance of a century on debut, which eventually came off the 203rd ball he faced. He hit 14 fours.
Balaji had the most wickets to his name for Tamil Nadu - 2 for 88 in 24 overs.