New Delhi, Nov. 10 -- Mithun Manhas has seen many Delhi mates pass him by and make the India grade.
Amongst them are Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Ashish Nehra and Ishant Sharma. Manhas, a prolific scorer on the domestic circuit, failed to earn an India cap as some of his best years were lost in an era where the middle order was packed with class.
And when the opening came towards the end of last decade, he was too old to be considered.
But the 33-year-old, with 125 first-class games behind him, still has the appetite of a debutant. On Saturday, he exhibited crisp strokes all around the wicket while batting patiently to notch up his 19th Ranji ton and rescue Delhi against Odisha.
Delhi, struggling at 131/5 and then at 163/6, eventually ended at 331, thanks to Manhas's 161 not out. Just before Delhi opened their season at Ghaziabad, Manhas was busy helping his company win a tournament at the same ground. A week later, he was a rare bright spot for Delhi against UP, notching up 42 and 65 in the two innings.
In this match, a new-look Delhi would have been in the dumps if not for Manhas's level-headed approach on a sluggish Ferozshah Kotla wicket.
"It was important to see off the first session safely against their wicket-to-wicket bowling," Manhas said. With a relaxed stance, he played the ball late and timed it sweetly. When the sun beat down in the second session, Manhas and Sumit Narwal launched into the nagging Odisha attack, scoring 125 in 29 overs.
Narwal was brutal, the strokes attractive at times, while Manhas was fluent throughout. The two added 139 in just over a session and helped Delhi earn a 188-run lead. For Odisha, Basant Mohanty took four for 81 while Alok Mangaraj took three.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.