Ranji Trophy 2018-19, Elite Group B: Rawat ton puts Delhi on top against Madhya Pradesh

Anuj Rawat hit a brilliant counter-attacking hundred to nullify Avesh Khan‘s six-wicket haul as Delhi looked set for an outright win against Madhya Pradesh in their Ranji Trophy Group B encounter on Sunday.

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Wicket-keeper batsman Rawat scored 134 off 183 balls as Delhi scored 261 in their first innings in reply to MP’s modest 132 and a first-innings advantage of 129 may well ensure full points for the home team.

The day belonged to left-handed Rawat, who played by far the most impressive innings of his career so far. The way he attacked under pressure, Rawat seemed to have felt the pinch having missed out on an IPL contract.

“The innings came a few days late,” he smiled sheepishly. “I felt bad but IPL snub has taught me that I need to work a lot harder. This is by far my best innings in senior cricket,” said the former India U-19 keeper.

Delhi were reduced to 36 for 5, courtesy Avesh (6/51), who worked up brisk pace to unsettle the likes of Kunal Chandela (0), Dhruv Shorey (0), Nitish Rana (0) and Hiten Dalal (0). Young Rawat showed admirable temperament and proper game sense as he first consolidated with Lalit Yadav (25) in a 60-run sixth wicket stand.

Once Lalit was dismissed, Rawat found an able ally in Shivam Sharma (39), adding 118 runs for the seventh wicket. Once Delhi got the lead, Rawat batted more freely hitting on both sides of the wicket. He repeatedly reverse-swept leg-spinner Mihir Hirwani off the rough and for good measure hooked Kuldeep Sen for a six. He also hit a couple of sixes off left-arm spinner Kartikeya Singh.

Rawat is now getting a longer rope as Rishabh Pant is busy on national duty. “Even if Rishabh Pant comes back, I want to score as many runs so that I can be picked purely as a batsman,” he said.

Another former U-19 player, who hogged limelight during the first half was Avesh, who is having a dream Ranji season so far with close to 35 wickets.

“The key to my success has been workload management. The support staff is ensuring that I don’t bowl too much in the nets and have kept me fresh for matches,” said pacer, who wasn’t picked for India A this year. “The selection is not in my hands, performance is and that’s what I am focussing on,” he said.

Brief Scores: Madhya Pradesh 7/0 and 132, trail Delhi 261 (Anuj Rawat 134, Shivam Sharma 39, Avesh Khan 6/51) by 122 runs.