Vadodara, Sep 26 (UNI) Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan put rest of India in a commanding position as Delhi were tottering on 113 for three, chasing a target of 378 to win after the end of the third day of the Irani trophy match played at the Reliance stadium here today.
Zaheer bowled a hostile spell this afternoon as the pace bowler consumed Delhi skipper Virender Sehwag (3) and Virat Kohli (16) to give ROI upper hand.
However, a well crafted half century by opener Gautam Gambhir and his 76-run partnership for the third wicket with Rajat Bhatia trying hard to consolidate Delhi's innings but all the hard work done by the duo went in vain as Bhatia fell to the off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, speculated to be the last over of the day.
Gambhir was batting on 51 with the help of eight hit to the fence at stumps.
Delhi's reply to the ROI's second innings was not up to the mark as captain Virender Sehwag himself decided to open the innings.
Sehwag's innings did not last not too long as the swashbuckling opener fell pray to Zaheer.
After Sehwag's departure, Virat Kohli joined Gambhir and the duo put up a partnership of 32-runs in just five overs.
Kohli, however was not in his comfort zone while batting and he became the second victim of Zaheer on his individual score of 16 with the help of two boundaries.
For ROI, Zaheer claimed two wickets while Harbhajan Singh took the wicket of Bhatia.
Earlier in the morning, resuming at the overnight score of 99 for one, ROI consolidated their position with opener Rahul Dravid sharing two half century partnerships of 67 and 55 runs with S Badrinath (36) and M S Dhoni (unbeaten on 32) for the second and fifth wickets respectively.
Dravid, who remained at the crease for 297 minutes, scored 69 off 211 ball with seven boundaries, was finally sent back by spinner Chetanya Nanda. He was caught by Akash Chopra at first slip minutes before the lunch.
Resuming at his overnight score of 34, Dravid survived the hostile spell of Delhi speedsters Ishan Sharma and Ashish Nehra, and took one-and-a-half hours to add 16 more runs for his 100th first class half century.
Dominating the proceedings with his deadly pace attack, Sharma claimed a double wicket maiden in the 45th over. After adding only three runs to his overnight score of 33, Badrinath unfortunately made his exit, similar to his first innings dismissal by Sharma.
In the same over, Sharma scalped Mohammad Kaif for a duck with the help of wicket-keeper Bisht, reducing ROI to 111 for three.
After VVS Laxman was dismissed cheaply for just 18 off 35 balls, Dravid and Dhoni stretched the innings with a valuable 55 run partnership for the fifth wicket that lasted for nearly 50 minutes.
However, after the departure of Dravid, Dhoni went into a murderous mood, hitting each and every bowler to all corners of the ground.
The Indian ODI skipper scored 84-runs with the help of 12 fours and one towering six. Dhoni's fine innings came to an end as the wicketkeeper went for a mighty hit on a slow ball from Ishant Sharma and was held at gully by Kohli.
The ROI tail did not contributed enough but R P Singh frustrated Sehwag most as the pacer from UP scored 24-runs from just 22 balls with the help of four boundaries.
For Delhi, right-arm spinner Nanda was the most successful bowler as he claimed five wickets for just 48-runs while Sharma claimed three for 52 runs. Nehra and Sangwan claimed one wicket each.
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