New Delhi, Nov. 20 -- Virender Sehwag's presence at the Ferozshah Kotla a day after India beat England in the Ahmedabad Test created some flutter, briefly diverting attention from Delhi's battle for survival on the final day of their Ranji Trophy tie against Baroda.
"He makes it a point to come to watch Delhi play whenever he is in the city," said Vijay Dahiya, chief coach of the Delhi team. "He sat in the dressing room enjoying the match."
With their backs to the wall, Delhi perhaps needed this dose of inspiration in their bid to deny Baroda points on first innings lead. Seasoned pros Mithun Manhas and Rajat Bhatia, who has just returned from injury, made centuries batting out the first session on a track that had nothing for the bowlers.
If Delhi were one of the few venues to produce a result in the previous round, this game ended tamely with the teams taking a point each as the first innings lead couldn't be decided. The hosts ended at 505 for 6, 56 runs adrift of the Baroda total.
"For a team like Delhi that probably has the strongest seam attack in the country, it was surprising to see such a placid track," said Baroda coach Sanath Kumar.
A wicket early on could have done the trick for Baroda - missing the injured Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel - as they tried to get the batsmen off short balls. Manhas nearly fell into the trap but the catch was spilt.
As Manhas neared his century, he asked his score to be removed from the scoreboard to ease the pressure of nearing the landmark.
Once he'd done that, his score was back, and so were the smiles in the Delhi camp.
Bhatia, playing his first game of the season and often requiring treatment on the field, completed his classy ton with a six. Barring a chance, he was flawless both with the bat (133*) and the ball (3 wickets) in the match.
With a modest build, Bhatia knows his limitations and works a lot on his strength.
Perhaps, that's what carried him on the day. A quickfire fifty from Sumit Narwal helped Delhi come within striking distance of the Baroda total.
Brief scores Baroda 561. Delhi 505 for 6 in 159 ovs (Rajat Bhatia 133*, Manhas 106; Bhargav Bhatt 3/169). Pts: Delhi 1, Baroda 1.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.