Ranji Trophy 2018-19, Group B, round 5: Gambhir ton guides Delhi to first-innings lead over Andhra
Gautam Gambhir raises his bat after scoring a century in his final match. (PTI Image)

Gautam Gambhir scored the 43rd and final first-class century of his career as Delhi ensured at least three points by virtue of first innings lead against Andhra on the third day of a group B encounter in the Ranji Trophy on Saturday. At stumps, Delhi were 409 for 7 in reply to Andhra’s 380 with a slender lead of 29 runs but every other detail was of little consequence because of one man playing his last game.

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The entire focus was on Gambhir, who is set to hang his boots on Sunday, made it memorable for the 500-odd spectators, who were present at the Feroz Shah Kotla to cheer every run that he scored. A streaky boundary through the slips took him to 98 and then he square drove pacer Bandaru Ayappa to scamper home for a double to complete one of his more emotionally exhausting hundreds.

While the 100-odd youngsters sporting “Miss you Gauti’ T-shirts were overwhelmed with emotion, the former India opener was muted in his celebrations. He added 113 runs for the second wicket with skipper Dhruv Shorey (98) before India A keeper Kona Bharat finally held onto an edge with off-spinner Shoaib Mohammed Khan being the bowler.

It wasn’t a smooth innings by any stretch of the imagination, but no one cared as Gambhir received a generous applause. The Delhi players gave a him a ‘Guard of Honour’, the spectators gave a standing ovation and the entire Andhra team came up to congratulate him. He strode back to pavilion as the interest in the day’s proceedings suddenly waned.

However, it was Shorey, Delhi’s most consistent batsmen over past two seasons, who played with a lot of confidence, wearing the Andhra attack on a low and slow track. He batted patiently playing 259 balls, hitting six fours, adding 86 with Vaibhav Rawal (33) after century stand with Gambhir.

After Rawal was dismissed, Dhruv was stuck and left-arm spinner Manish Golamaru trapped him with a short mid-off fielder. Sai Krishna stationed at the position took a smart low catch. But debutant Jonty Sidhu (30), Lalit Yadav (29) and Anuj Rawat (28) took their team past Andhra’s first innings score to ensure three points.

Brief Scores: Delhi 409/7 (Gautam Gambhir 112, Dhruv Shorey 98, Manish Golamaru 3/126, Shoaib Khan 3/138), lead Andhra 380 all out by 29 runs.