Mumbai: Former India opener Akash Chopra and Rajat Bhatia dug themselves in to rescue Delhi in the Ranji Trophy final against UP at Wankhede Stadium here on Thursday.
The duo revived the tottering Delhi innings with an undefeated 160-run stand for the fifth wicket after UP seamer Praveen Kumar's triple-strike reduced 'em to 15/3.
Delhi recovered from 36/4 to post 196 for four at stumps on day two in reply to Uttar Pradesh's first innings score of 342.
Akash Chopra crafted a fine 85 after facing 205 balls and inclusive of 15 boundaries while Rajat Bhatia made a strokeful 81 studded with 10 fours and three sixes.
Delhi are now 146 runs adrift of Uttar Pradesh's first innings score with six wickets in hand.
Earlier in the morning resuming at 292/7, UP was bowled to 342 in their first innings. Ravikant Shukla was unlucky enough to miss his century falling for 96 when he spooned an easy catch to Manhas in the covers of an attempted slog sweep off Bhatia.
After the dismissal of Shukla, Delhi new-ball bowlers Pradeep Sangwan and Sumit Narwal cleaned up the tail in no time. Sangwan and Narwal shared four wickets apiece. Spinners Bhatia and Nanda claimed a wicket each.
Delhi like their opponents, had a bad start as India ODI seamer Praveen with his lethal seam movements and pace reduced Delhi to 15 for three.
Praveen wrecked the much-vaunted Delhi top-order.
With a packed slip cordon, Praveen kept it full and moved the ball both ways to trouble the batsmen. He started the collapse with his third delivery. With just one man at covers, he served one full and swinging outside off. Gambhir took the bait but ended up edging the expansive drive to third slip.
Shikhar Dhawan, who started off with a fierce cut and a cover drive was castled with an incoming delivery, while Mithun Manhas was done in by a ball that curved in to trap him plumb in front.
Aditya Jain too came and went in whimper allowing Chopra and Bhatia to do the rescue act.
Chopra defended solidly with the full face of the bat, getting off the mark off the 19th delivery he faced, but Delhi would not have complained. Post-lunch he took charge with a fluent innings as Delhi recovered through the Chopra-Bhatia partnership.
Kaif had set his field carefully for Chopra. There was a short square-leg and a slightly deep short-leg, plus a man close on the off-side, at times, for Sudeep Tyagi, who got the ball to cut in from a length.
Chopra played with soft hands, making sure nothing reached the waiting palms. Kaif, then, placed a leg gully but again Chopra kept his tucks and glances to the ground.
He showed impeccable judgement outside the off stump and unfurled a few delightful drives through the off side. There was a caressed square drive off Tyagi and a couple of inside-out drives by Piyush Chawla that caught the eye.
Giving him able support was the feisty Bhatia. Though not as assured as Chopra he played out the seamers early in his knock before unleashing himself against Chawla. A six over long-on and a swung boundary saw him gain in confidence and he even hit Praveen Kumar for a couple of boundaries. The partnership has kept Delhi in the game but UP will know they need just a wicket to get stuck in to the out-of-form lower order.
Brief Scores (D-2):
UP Ist innings 342 all out (Tanmay Srivastav 105, Ravikant Shukla 96, Pravin Gupta 27; Sangwan 4 for 80, Narwal 4 for 81) Vs Delhi Ist innings 196 for 4 (Akash Chopra 85 n o, Bhatia 81 n o; Praveen Kumar 3 for 44, Tyagi 1 for 44).