Diminutive Delhi stumper Rishabh Pant slammed a brilliant triple hundred but it went in vain as Maharashtra took the all-important first innings lead in the Ranji Trophy Group B match that ended in a draw here today. Pant compiled 308 off only 326 balls laced with as many as 9 sixes and 42 fours and brought Delhi very close to Maharashtra's huge first innings score of 635 for 2 declared. However, he fell in trying to hit a 10th six, one ball after he had lofted left-arm spinner Satyajeet Bachhav over the rope, when Delhi were 58 runs behind Maharashtra's first innings total. The dismissal of Pant, who had kept wickets over the first two days and then came down to bat at No.5 when Delhi were 135 for 3, ended his team's hopes as Maharashtra polished off the remaining three wickets for 13 runs to terminate the northern team's first innings at 590 for a lead of 45. In the remaining time, Maharashtra made 58 without loss before the game was called off by mutual consent. This morning when Delhi resumed at the overnight 376 for 5 with Pant on 155, the team's main hopes rested on the pint-sized left-handed Pant. And he kept Maharashtra on tenterhooks by hitting an array of fours and sixes while adding 182 runs in just 191 minutes with Varun Sood who went on to remain unconquered on 32 after a stay of 228 minutes. Delhi were 493 for 6 at lunch with Pant having reached 250 and then he became the third youngest batsman behind Wasim Jaffer of Mumbai and Abhinav Mukund of Tamil Nadu to reach the landmark of 300 with a single in 320 balls and 503 minutes. The wicketkeeper-batsman had struck 14 fours and a six to race from 200 to 300 at better than run a ball on a perfect track. Maharashtra, worried till then, were overjoyed when Pant, after heaving Bachhav to long off by leaving his crease, tried to repeat the shot, missed connecting and was stumped.
He had hit the spinner for five sixes. Maharashtra secured three points. Scores: Maharashtra 635 for 2 decl. And 58 for no loss (H Khadiwale not out 38, C Khurana not out 19). Delhi 590 (D Shorey 71, N Rana 44, R Pant 308, Milind Kumar 45, V Sood not out 32; M Sayyed 3 for 121, C Khurana 3 for 143).
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