Bereaved Kohli helps Delhi avert follow-on

Published: Tuesday, December 19, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:A greenhorn stumper playing only his second match and a bereaved batsman put on 152 runs for the sixth wicket to save Delhi from the ignominy of an imminent follow-on but despite Puneet Bisht (156) and Viraat Kohli's (90) heroics, the hosts conceded a 138-run first innings lead against Karnataka on the penultimate day of the Elite Group A Ranji Trophy match here today.

At stumps, Karnataka had stretched their overall lead to 170 runs with nine wickets in hands and even if the match ends in draw, the visitors are assured of two points from the outing.

Robin Uthappa (26) and Bharat Chipli (0) were in the crease when stumps were drawn with Karnataka on 32 for one in their second innings.

The sparse Ferozeshah Kotla crowd hardly had any idea that overnight unbeaten batsman Kohli had lost his father early this morning but even the family tragedy could not stop the middle order bat from coming to rescue of the hosts. The teenager showed maturity beyond his age and taught his illustrious senior colleagues a lesson or two on how to bat on such conditions.

Kohli spent 281 minutes in the middle, faced 238 balls and hit 16 boundaries before he was stranded 10-run short of a well-deserved ton, when he edged B Akhil to perish caught behind.

Puneet Bisht, on the other hand, showed a over-my-dead-body resistance and lingered there for quarter to six hours for a 283-ball knock of 156 that was studded with 21 fours and a six.

Once Kohli was out, Bisht ran out of partners and was the last man out when Akhil removed him caught behind.

Akhil was the pick of the Karnataka bowlers, claiming five for 58 in his 25 overs.

In Karnataka's second essay, centurion in the first innings, Robin Uthappa, started from where he had left and was not out on 26.

For the hosts, Rajat Bhatia castled Barrington Rowland (5) for the only success of the day.

Later, talking to reporters, Bisht was all praise for Kohli.

''Our idea was to stay at the wicket there for as long as possible but with Viraat suffering such a massive setback, it was quite a difficult task. But to our surprise, he stayed immensely focused and didn't lose concentration on a single occasion,'' said the youngster.

''Of course you feel sorry for a teammate in such situation and he was rather expression-less throughout the proceedings,'' he added.

Karnataka coach Venkatesh Prasad was also impressed the way Kohli batted.

''Inspite of a tragedy of such magnitude, Kohli came up with a superb knock and this was clearly not as easy as it seemed. He forged a crucial partnership with Bisht and saved Delhi from a certain follow-on,'' he said.

Brief Scores:

Karnataka 446 and 32 for 1 ( Robin Uthappa 26 n o; Rajat Bhatia 1 for 5) Vs Delhi 308 (Puneet Bisht 156, Viraat Kohli 90; B Akhil 5 for 58, Joshi 2 for 54, Vinay Kumar 2 for 78)


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