Pune : Young speedster Navdeep Saini bowled one of the most devastating spells of recent times in Indian domestic cricket as Delhi humiliated Bengal by an innings and 26 runs to enter the Ranji Trophy final.
In one of the most hostile spells bowled in recent times, Saini (12-3-35-4) intimidated the Bengal batting as they were all out for 86 in 24.3 overs in their second innings. He was ably supported by left-arm pacer Kulwant Khejroliya (8.3-9-40 -4). This was after Mohammed Shami bowled his heart out to take 6 for 122 in 39 overs to bowl out Delhi for 398.
Having kept the lead down to 112 runs, Bengal were expected to put up a fight, but ran into Saini — a serious India prospect — who unnerved the batsmen with raw pace. He followed the ‘bible’ for fast bowlers — ‘top of off stump’ — something the Australian legend Glenn McGrath had mastery over.
Saini, who is certain to don India whites in 2018, followed it religiously as Bengal batsmen didn’t have a clue as to what he was bowling. Sudeep Chatterjee (21) couldn’t bring his bat down as the delivery moved a shade to hit off bail. Manoj Tiwary tried to cover the swing and the delivery was an unplayable one as he was beaten for pace. Those two deliveries really affected the psyche of the Bengal batsmen, rattling them mentally. He then bowled an off cutter that Aamir Gani (0) tried to leave and it hit the off stump. B Amit (0) failed to cover the swing and another identical dismissal followed.
Saini’s exploits helped Khejroliya, who bowled back of the length as the deliveries reared up, forcing the already pressurised batsmen to play false shots. His match haul of seven wickets deservingly earned him the Man of the Match award, overshadowing the lion-hearted effort from Shami on an unresponsive track. Delhi coach K P Bhaskar felt that rival skipper Manoj Tiwary must have taken his team lightly. “I read some comments from Tiwary that he would teach us a lesson and all that. What did he think that a Delhi team comprising Gautam, Navdeep, Rishabh will be easy to beat. Those comments were uncalled for,” Bhaskar said after the match.
Bengal: 286 and 86 in 26.4 overs (Navdeep Saini 4/35, Kulwant Khejroliya 4/40). Delhi: 398 all out (Gautam Gambhir 127, Kunal Chandela 113, Himmat Singh 60, Mohd Shami 6/123).