Delhi sniff outright win

Right through their first three days against Orissa, Delhi have grabbed advantages and let them slip through their hands. And each time that has happened, Sumit Narwal has intervened to regain the initiative.

First, they started poorly in response to bowling out Orissa for 143 (Narwal 2/35). Narwal's 66, in the company of centurion Mithun Manhas, had helped them recover and post a sizeable lead. On Day Three, Pawan Suyal struck in the very first over. But once again, Delhi failed to build on that and make the most of the first hour. Enter Narwal, as Delhi's third change bowler, to trap Abhilash Mallick for 26 and end a 51-run second wicket partnership. Narwal's 3/41 and Suyal's 2/62 helped Delhi go to stumps with a distinct chance of an outright win, with Orissa 229 for six.

The visitors might be 41 ahead with four wickets in hand, but the Narwal-Suyal duo could pose more problems for them on Day 4.

Till the time Narwal sent back Mallick in the 22nd over, Delhi had only bowled three maiden overs. The strike was rotating freely. But Delhi re-established control after that, bowling 22 further maidens through the rest of the day, at an average of one every three overs, with Narwal bowling five and left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra doing a splendid containing job, with 13 maidens in 24 overs.

Still, Orissa frustrated the hosts and Govind Poddar was inching closer to his century, when Narwal struck again. Narwal sent down an in-dipper that bowled Poddar from a good length, ending his knock at 85 (171b, 15x4). It was just reward for Narwal, who had kept patient, hitting the off-stump corridor.

With Shikhar Dhawan by Narwal's side at mid-off, captain and bowler tried various fielding combinations, with men on the leg side fence for bouts of short pitched bowling and, at times, even an umbrella around Biplab Samantray, waiting for a nick. Finally, it was Suyal who broke through, forcing the well-set Samantray to nick one to Mohit Sharma at first slip on 47.

... contd.

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