Munaf mauls Delhi, ROI wrest advantage

Munaf Patel knocked the daylights out of Delhi with a singeing four-wicket haul to help Rest of India seize the upper hand on Day 2 of the Irani Cup.

updated: September 28, 2008 09:33 IST
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The dead-as-dodo track suddenly sprang to life as Munaf Patel knocked the daylights out of Delhi with a singeing four-wicket haul to help Rest of India seize the upper hand on day two of the Irani Cup on Thursday.

Munaf and fellow leather-flingers breathed enough hostility on IPCL Stadium's seemingly docile track to skittle out the entire Delhi side for a paltry 177 in two sessions, halting them 75 runs behind Rest of India's first innings total of 252.

At close, Rahul Dravid (34) and S Badrinath (33) were in the middle, having guided Rest of India to 99 for one, stretching the overall lead to a healthy 174.

In their second essay too, Rest of India got off to a sedate start but opener Wasim Jaffer (21) once again failed to convert the start and fell to Pradeep Sangwan.

Fellow India hopeful Badrinath, however, decided to make the most of the opportunity and once he survived couple of strong LBW appeals, the youngster got into the groove with some attracting drives. Dravid, on the other hand, was content grafting.

Earlier, resuming on overnight score of 21 for no loss, Delhi was in for an early setback when Gautam Gambhir (5) poked at a Zaheer Khan delivery and perished in the slip on what was the seventh ball of the day.

But with Aakash Chopra (42) and Virender Sehwag (43) on song, it looked like a mere glitch which Delhi would easily put behind.

Chopra, who somehow never manages to convince the national selectors despite his tonnes of runs, looked good for a big knock and he scored at a healthy rate too, matching Sehwag shot for shot no mean achievement in itself.

A breathtaking straight drive and an immaculate square drive off a Zaheer over and then a pull off RP Singh raced to the ropes but the half-century that seemed imminent for Chopra never really came as he nibbled at a Munaf delivery and Mohammad Kaif took a spectacular one-handed catch at second slip.

Having tasted success, Munaf started breathing fire and got rid of Virat Kohli (4) with a rising delivery which the youngster could only glide to Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps.

Sehwag decided offence is the best defence and stepped out to hit Anil Kumble over the sightscreen for the first six of the match. He then uppishly pierced the mid-wicket and mid-on for a four but, like Chopra, fell before the 50 mark.

He reached out to glide a Kumble delivery and Dravid took a brilliant catch at the lone slip to return Sehwag just when he was looking dangerous.

What followed was a sad procession of Delhi batsmen sauntering their way back to the pavilion.

Mithun Manhas (4) became Munaf's third victim and though Puneet Bisht (28) and Rajat Bhatia (17) continued their resistance in the post-lunch session, it was beyond them to do what their top order colleagues could not.

Down the order, Pradeep Sangwan also tried his best with an unbeaten 40-ball 23 which included a towering six off Harbhajan Singh, but the 200-mark still remained elusive and Delhi collapsed.