Ghaziabad: Uttar Pradesh strengthened their position on day three of their Ranji Trophy match against Delhi by reducing the visitors to 197 for 4 in their second innings on Sunday.
Delhi were ahead of UP by only 29 runs when the bad light stopped play, with Virender Sehwag (21) and Mithun Manhas (63) still at the wicket. Sehwag, who came in to bat only at the fall of fourth wicket, was not sent earlier as a "precautionary measure", said Delhi's coach Vijay Dahiya, who also informed that "the dashing batsman had a few stitches to his right hand index finger" which got injured while attempting a tough chance of Mohammad Kaif in the first slip on Saturday.
UP bowlers leaked a few more runs in Delhi's second innings than they would have liked but team's allrounder Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who picked up two wickets on Sunday, said they wanted to go for an outright win and that's why tried a little more. "After taking the first innings lead, we wanted to go for an outright win and that's why tried different things in the second innings," Bhuvnesh said after the day's play. "We bowled to our strength, which is bowling full, and it did bring rewards for us."
Having reduced Delhi to 197 for 4 in their second innings, UP have a chance to push for an outright win on the last day.
UP started the day at 292 for 6, with Suresh Raina and wicketkeeper batsman Amir Khan unbeaten on 19 and 4 respectively. Both began with boundaries as thick outside edges flew from their bats to the vacant third man fence. But Ashish Nehra provided early breakthroughs to the visitors as he got Khan (9) and Ali Murtaza (8) caught behind to keeper Puneet Bisht. Praveen Kumar then began his entertaining knock. He got off the mark with a lofted four over mid-off but then survived a close caught behind shout immediately after.
But undeterred by the inspired spell from Delhi pacers, Praveen continued his onslaught, taking the left-arm spin of Vikas Mishra to the cleaners, hitting him for two straight sixes. Raina too opened his shoulders and began to play attacking strokes himself. He pulled and then hit Ishant for fours over covers to bring up his half-century. But the UP captain departed while trying to up the ante, slashing hard to a wide delivery from Sumit Narwal and getting caught at third man for 55.
Imtiaz Ahmed, played like a proper batsman and shared 38 runs with Praveen for the last wicket. His wicket, caught at covers for 10, brought an end to UP's innings.
Unmukt Chand began Delhi's second innings with Gautam Gambhir. But he went back for a duck as a Bhuvneshwar delivery thudded onto his pads. With 6 for 1, Delhi needed a solid stand and Gambhir and Kohli provided just that. Both were tested by the UP bowlers but they were quick to latch on to anything loose.
But the wickets of both, one after another, put Delhi back on the back foot. Puneet Bisht too didn't last long as he fell chasing a wide delivery from Imtiaz. Manhas, with his fighting fifty, came to Delhi's rescue once again. Sehwag, understanding the situation well, gave maximum strike to Manhas. The visitors’ hopes to save the game now depend on these two on the last day of the clash.