New Delhi, Dec 7: Skipper Gautam Gambhir led from the front with a gutsy unbeaten century while the others floundered as Delhi struggled to 260 for six at stumps on the first day of their opening Ranji Trophy fixture against Saurashtra, here today.
When the stumps were drawn, Gambhir was undefeated on 123 off 270 balls, having shared a 88-run stand for the fifth wicket with another veteran Rajat Bhatia (47) when While Virender Sehwag was run out for 9, Unmukt Chand's (28) downfall came due to atrocious shot selection while Vaibhav Rawal (9) was cleaned up playing to a wrong line.
Varun Sood (14), who was surprisingly promoted to No. 3, was done in by a short ball onto his rib-cage. The day's highlight certainly was Gambhir's 38th first-class century as he showed his fighting qualities on a sporting Roshanara Club track that didn't have lot of grass but was of firm, even bounce nature.
The left-hander played safe during initial overs where he looked a bit uncomfortable against Saurashtra pace duo of Sudeep Tyagi (2/45) and Abhishek Bhatt (2/52), but grew in confidence with passage of time. His six hour vigil included 14 boundaries and two sixes. (Karnataka bowled out for 290)
The only chance that he gave was on personal score of 27, when he jumped out to off-break bowler Kamlesh Makvana and missed it completely but Sagar Jogiyani failed to carry out an easy stumping. The 50 came in the post lunch session with a square driven boundary. But before that Sehwag was run out when he called Gambhir for a third run.
It was Sehwag, who was coming back at striker's end but his desperate dive couldn't beat Sheldon Jackson's direct throw from the deep. Rawal was out quickly and Delhi were in a spot at 145 for four before Gambhir found perfect partner in Bhatia.
Both were hardly bothered by Makvana and left-arm spinner Dharmendra Jadeja. The drives started to flow and both stepped out to spinners for maximum. Gambhir was unbeaten on 98 at tea. His century was completed when he tried a heave off Makvana but it went towards fine-leg as Gambhir reached his landmark.
Bhatia was playing well as he dispatched Jadeja for two boundaries before was bowled playing to wrong line. Puneet Bisht (17) was victim of second new ball when Bhatt edged one to Jogiyani.
Delhi: 260 for six (Gautam Gambhir 123 batting, Rajat Bhatia 47, Sudeep Tyagi 2/45).