New Delhi, Jan 8: Pondicherry scripted a historic chapter in their Ranji Trophy journey as visitors secured a convincing 9-wicket victory over former champions Delhi, chasing down a modest target of 50 in the opening match of Elite Group D at the Arun Jaitley Stadium here on Monday.
Pondicherry's bowlers showcased dominance, dismantling the Delhi batting lineup, and restricting them to 148 and 145 in the first and second innings respectively.
Gaurav Yadav, the former Madhya Pradesh fast bowler now donning Pondicherry's colours, emerged as the tormentor-in-chief. His career-best seven-wicket haul for just 49 runs in the first innings dismantled Delhi, setting the tone for Pondicherry's dominance. Yadav continued his brilliance with three more wickets in the second innings, accumulating a match haul of 10 wickets.
Captain Yash Dhull's batting struggles added to Delhi's woes as they faltered in both innings. The experienced duo of Ishant Sharma and Navdeep Saini failed to make significant inroads, and Pondicherry's top-order stood resilient. Abin Mathew's five-wicket haul, including the crucial dismissal of Dhull, compounded Delhi's misery. Delhi's decline from their former glory in the Ranji Trophy is evident, raising questions about team selection and talent management.
Once a cricket powerhouse with seven titles, recent seasons have seen them struggle in the group stages, failing to recapture their former dominance.
Delhi head coach Devang Gandhi expressed disappointment, acknowledging that Pondicherry outplayed them in all facets of the game. Despite solid preparations, Delhi struggled to put up significant scores in both innings.
Gandhi admitted, "We should have been a little bit more tough," emphasising the importance of playing out spells in the second innings.
Reflecting on the missed opportunities, he noted the absence of imposing scores that could have applied pressure on the opposition. Gandhi credited Pondicherry's bowlers for exploiting favourable conditions but believed his team could have handled the situation better. Looking ahead to their next encounter against Jammu and Kashmir, he acknowledged challenges, with key players like Navdeep Saini and Ishant Sharma unavailable for various reasons.
"We need to come back with a stronger resolve," emphasised Gandhi, recognising the need for character and resilience in the team. Despite the setback, he defended the decision to field makeshift openers, citing the importance of team combinations and adaptability.
The coach concluded by stating that the injured players are in the process of getting fit, leaving room for potential changes in the lineup. As Delhi regroups for their upcoming challenge, the focus shifts to rediscovering form, showcasing resilience, and making strategic decisions to turn the tide in their favour in the Ranji Trophy campaign. (IANS)