Delhi hang by a finger
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Virender Sehwag's arrival brought forth a deafening roar from the crowd at the Nehru stadium. Through the course of the day, they had endured suspense over his finger injury. There was a certain sense of relief in their reaction to his appearance at the crease on Sunday evening.
And apart from making the selection for the Test series relatively uncomplicated, Sehwag's unfinished fifth-wicket stand of 51 with Mithun Manhas helped Delhi avoid complete humiliation against a disciplined and persistent Uttar Pradesh outfit.
Sehwag occasionally squirmed and shook his right hand, but otherwise showed no signs of pain. And he kept his composure while playing pace and spin with equal authority in his unbeaten 21. He hit two consecutive boundaries, via his favourite cut shot, off Suresh Raina and one more through the covers against Praveen Kumar in his 44-ball knock.
But it was Manhas, with a graceful 63 that included 10 superbly timed boundaries mostly in front of square, who alone showed the will to spend time at the wicket, amidst the enveloping haze, to keep Delhi alive, just about. Delhi are 197 for four in 48 overs, leading by 29 runs, with the last recognised pair at the crease.
Most of the batsmen who came in ahead, as Sehwag decided to give himself maximum recovery time, displayed undesired flamboyance in delicate circumstances, getting out to atrocious shots with Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli, who scored 47 and 43 respectively, no exception.
Gambhir pulled everything thrown short at him, top-edging a couple of them but middling most. His new opening partner Unmukt Chand fell first ball. Gambhir and Kohli put on 70 for the second wicket, with the left-hander dominating proceedings. He hit left-arm spinner Ali Murtaza for a straight six, survived a caught behind appeal next ball trying to cut, and eventually fell attempting another, to a delivery that was quick and going straight through to the wicketkeeper.