New Delhi: Delhi booked a berth in the semi-final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy after they beat Railways by seven wickets at the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground here on Wednesday.
The match turned out to be more or less a repeat of the quarter-final between Mumbai and Karnataka played here on Tuesday. Chasing a meagre target of 176, Delhi's Sikhar Dhawan and Mohit Sharma gave their team a steady start and went on to build a healthy partnership of 97.
Dhawan and Sharma played balls on their merit and looked in total control, before Sharma (36) was stumped by wicketkeeper Mahesh Rawat off Shivant Shukla's bowling. Dhawan stroked the ball well and hit eight boundaries and one six in his innings of 69 off 69 balls, ably supported by Gautam Gambhir who played the match after returning from Australia.
However, after Dhawan's dismissal, things slowed down for Delhi. Gambhir, who was expected to go after the Railways' attack, chose to wait for the bad deliveries and remained unbeaten at 34 off 57 balls, which included three hits to the fence. After that, it was just formality before Gambhir hit a four to take Delhi to 178 in 37.4 overs at the loss of three wickets.
Railways' bowlers hardly had any luck and their skipper Sanjay Bangar stuck to medium-pace bowling, though Shukla's off-spin was getting purchase from the wicket. Bangar and Shukla took one-wicket each and the third wicket was a run-out.
Winning the toss and fielding first has become a norm at the Kotla ground and Delhi captain Rajat Bhatia exactly did the same. For the first hour in the morning, there was seam and bounce for the Delhi pacers and they utilised the conditions well, especially Parvinder Awana, Pawan Suyal and Rajat Bhatia.
Railways' batting was deflated early as six of their batsmen were already back at the score of 56 in 22.1 overs. But the seventh-wicket partnership of 52 runs between Ashish Yadav and Dhiren Salvi consolidated the visitors' innings. Yadav got a reprieve at two when Dhawan grassed a sharp chance in the slips and went on to score 59 off 79 balls before Railways were all out for 175 in 49.5 overs.
For Delhi, Bhatia claimed three wickets while Awana and Suyal chipped in with two wickets each. Delhi will now meet Mumbai in the semi-final to be played on March 10.