New Delhi: Everyone expected of Delhi winding up the match on the third day, but Odisha batsmen came out with the resilience to fight it out and they did so at the Feroz Shah Kotla here on Sunday.
At the end of day's play Odisha were 229 for 6 and a lead of 41 runs, with skipper Natraj Behera (25) and Deepak Behera (4) still at the crease. The visiting team started with the overnight score of 7 for 0, but lost opener Paresh Patel (6) in the first over of the morning. After that Govind Podder joined Abhilash Mallick and stiched together a 51-run partnership before Mallick was trapped in front of the stumps by Sumit Narwal to reduce Odisha to 59 for 2.
Podder had come out with a positive frame of mind and was not bogged down by the situation. Be it on the back-foot or the drives on the up, he was hitting the sweet spot of the bat and at the other end, Biplab Samantray was playing the second fiddle. Both the batsmen after that anchored at the crease without giving the Delhi bowlers to do further damage.
Just prior to the end of first session, Podder paddled sweeped Vikash Mishra for a boundary to reach his half-century off 80 balls. Podder played some delightful strokes through the covers and at the stroke of lunch, Odisha were sitting pretty with 121 for 2 and trailing by 67 runs.
After the lunch break, Delhi looked desperate to break the partnership, but both the Odisha batsmen were in no mood to give away their wickets. Moreover, contrary to opinions that the Kotla track might break up on the third day held up well and made batting easy. Finally Narwal ended the wait by picking up the wicket of Podder and made up for the missed caught and bowled chance two balls before. The youngster lost focus and got bowled for 85 off 171 balls which consisted of 15 hits to the fence. By snapping the 84-run partnership, Delhi was back in the game and hoped of running down Odisha.
Without further loss of wickets, Samantray and Natraj Behera took Odisha to 182 for 3 at tea and trailed by six runs. After the departure of Podder, Odisha's scoring rate slowed down and it continued till the end of the day. Samantray also failed to last long after tea when Pawan Suyal scalped him at the score of 47. Odisha could have added three runs when new man at the crease Rakesh Mohanty (1) was bowled by Parvinder Awana to leave Odisha at 205 for 5.
The next batsman Haladhar Das (12) also failed to stay long at the crease and pulled a short ball of Narwal to short square leg fielder. Delhi could have got one more wicket had subsitute fielder Dhruv Shorey not dropped Natraj Behera at third slip at the score of 34. Odisha ended the penultimate day's play at the score of 229 for 6. For Delhi, Narwal returned with figures of 3 for 41 and Suyal chipped in with two wickets.
Now on the last day remaining, Delhi look like finishing up things early, unless Odisha show some resistance and make them wait a bit longer.