All-rounder Manan Sharma and tail-ender Vikas Tokas engaged in a 72-run stand for the ninth wicket to ensure first innings lead and atleast three points for Delhi against Vidarbha in a Ranji Trophy group B encounter, here today. With top guns like Shikhar Dhawan (6), Gautam Gambhir (22), Unmukt Chand (0) and Rishabh Pant (29) being dismissed cheaply, Delhi were down and out at 178 for 8 at the start of the 58th over. In the next 23.5 overs, Manan and Vikas played with a lot of grit and determination to deny Vidarbha, what they saw as an opportunity to get three points and then push for victory. Manan in fact surpassed his previous best score of 81.
He has so far played 119 balls to hit 9 boundaries and a six off a half-tracker bowled by leg-break bowler Azhar Sheikh. Credit to Tokas as he hung in there for 88 deliveries to give him the support that he needed. Earlier, India discard Gambhir again paid price for his open chested stance as an incoming delivery from Rajneesh Gurbani found him plumb in-front. Unmukt Chand only had some success during the Jharkhand game and he edged an angled delivery from left-armer Shrikant Wagh to glovesman Siddhesh Wath. Flavour of the domestic season Rishabh Pant (29) showed some discretion initially by defending but even his 29 had 22 runs in boundaries -- four fours and a huge six over mid-wicket off Lalit Yadav's bowling. En route his innings, Pant also crossed the personal milestone of 900 runs in a season and is ahead of his rivals with 903 runs in his kitty. But Lalit, who can work up decent pace got better of the burly Pant when he tried to pull a short delivery which went up for glovesman Wath to complete an easy catch. Delhi were 74 for 5 and one demanded a bit more caution from the India prospect. Nitish Rana (27) and Milind Kumar (37) did the hardwork only to throw away their wickets. But the knock was a timely one for former India cricketer Ajay Sharma's son, who has had a pretty ordinary season with the ball. It is the paucity of quality spinners and Manan's ability to get a few runs down the order has been the reason for his extended run in the team. His innings has put Delhi right back in the game and Gambhir and his men would now like to go all out for another six points. Brief Scores: Vidarbha 183 all out Delhi 1st Innings 250/8 (Manan Sharma 82, Rishabh Pant 29, Vikas Tokas 28, Rajneesh Gurbani 4/76).