Ricky Bhui lifted the sagging spirits with an impressive counter-attacking 150 in Andhra's 266 for 7 as Delhi failed to drive home the advantage despite Subodh Bhati's maiden five-wicket haul on the first day of the Ranji Trophy encounter.
Bhui's seventh first-class hundred was scored in critical circumstances after Andhra were reeling at 48 for 4 as medium pacer Bhati (5/35 in 21 overs) made a successful comeback in longer format during Gautam Gambhir's farewell match.
The good work done by Bhati was undone by his seam bowling partner Simarjeet Singh (0/78 in 16 overs) as he sprayed all around with Bhui launching into him with a string of boundaries on both sides of the wicket.
The former India U-19 captain hit 19 boundaries and a six in 225 balls as Andhra's middle and lower-middle order comprising P Girinath Reddy (29), B Shiva Charan Singh (27) and out-of-favour India leg-spinner Karn Sharma (31) provided stiff resistance.
Bhui added 74 for the fifth wicket with Girinath, followed by another 66 with Shiva Charan and subsequently 77 for the seventh wicket with Karn.
Save Bhati, who bowled the perfect length over after over, the inexperienced attack didn't look menacing as Bhui played shots all round the wicket once he got set.
Debutant left-arm spinner Shivank Vashist (0/58 in 16 overs) was below par and could hardly trouble the batsmen.
Senior spinner Vikas Mishra (1/49 in 22 overs) was also flat and one dimensional, which increased the workload on Bhati.
"Yes, there was a lot of anger in me as to why I wasn't being tried in longer format. I had a point to prove and I am glad that I did it," an elated Bhati told reporters after the end of the day's play.
"My strength is to pitch it on right area and wait for the batsmen to make mistakes. I did just that and it paid off.
"If I would think about conditions and how the pitch would behave, I won't be able to deliver," said the lanky medium pacer, who is a regular feature in Delhi's shorter format assignments, having picked 36 List A and 22 T20 wickets.
Bhati did agree that Delhi frittered away the advantage.
"I would give credit to their centurion (Bhui). Even though we bowled well, he was batting brilliantly," he said.
Bhui, on his part, said that there were no demons on the wicket and the top order should have batted more responsibly.
"There wasn't much turn on offer and the wicket was good to bat on. My natural game is attacking one and I stuck to that. I believe some of the top order batsmen didn't play responsibly," Bhui said.
On a different note, Gautam Gambhir had a quite day fielding mainly in the slip cordon for spinners and mid-on for the pacers.
There was a professional artist hired for painting the live proceedings of Gambhir's last match.
Brief Scores: Andhra 266/7 (Ricky Bhui 150 batting, Karn Sharma 31, Subodh Bhati 5/35 in 21 overs).
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