Wasim Jaffer was unbeaten on 61 at close of play on Day 2 with Vidarbha 89 behind Delhi's first-innings total. © Wisden India

Wasim Jaffer was unbeaten on 61 at close of play on Day 2 with Vidarbha 89 behind Delhi’s first-innings total. © Wisden India

Rajneesh Gurbani’s terrific four-wicket burst, including a hat-trick, which helped him end with 6 for 59, meant Vidarbha restricted Delhi’s first innings to just 295 on the second day of the Ranji Trophy 2017-18 final at Holkar Stadium in Indore on Saturday (December 30). In response, Vidarbha got to 206 for 4 by close, Wasim Jaffer’s 86th first-class half-century keeping them on track for the innings lead.

Delhi started the day on 271 for 6 with Dhruv Shorey unbeaten on 123, and would have hoped to easily get past 300 and put up a big total. Shorey and Vikas Mishra were going well when, in the 13th over of the day, Gurbani made magic. He brought the fifth ball in from well outside the off stump to hit Mishra’s stumps and, next ball, did much the same to Navdeep Saini. On to the first ball of his next over, and it was three in three when one cut back in from outside off to hit Shorey stumps.

Shorey’s knock ended on 145, scored off 294 balls with 21 fours and with his wicket, Delhi were 295 for 5. Gurbani then removed Kulwant Khejroliya, the No. 11 batsman, four balls after Shorey’s exit to slam in the final nail. On the day, Delhi had lost four wickets – all to Gurbani – for just 24 runs.

Faiz Fazal, the Vidarbha captain, and Sanjay Ramaswamy got their side off to a good start, putting together 96 runs, before quick strikes from Akash Sudan, the right-arm pacer making his debut, meant both the openers had to walk back in quick succession.

Ramaswamy fell first, losing his stumps off the inside edge after scoring 31 in 92 balls with five fours. Fazal, the more enterprising partner in their stand, walked back soon after when he edged Sudan through to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps.

Hat-tricks in a Ranji Trophy final
B Kalyanasundaram:
Tamil Nadu v Bombay, 1972-73 and Rajneesh Gurbani: Vidarbha v Delhi, 2017-18

Vidarbha’s hat-trick men
Pritam Gandhe: v Rajasthan (1993-94), Pritam Gandhe: v Services (2008-09), Umesh Yadav: v Rajasthan (2015-16) and Rajneesh Gurbani: v Delhi (2017-18)

The scoreboard read 107 for 2 at that stage. Jaffer, playing in his ninth Ranji Trophy final (he has been on the winning side playing for Mumbai on all eight previous occasions), shored up Vidarbha’s innings with an unbeaten 61 off 120 balls, with Apoorv Wankhade keeping him company before falling at the stroke of stumps for 28. Khejroliya accounted for Wankhade while Ganesh Satish had fallen earlier for 12 to Saini.

At the end of the day, Vidarbha seemed to have a slight upper hand, especially with Jaffer looking solid in the middle, but the first session on the morrow could well give us an idea of where this game is headed.