Delhi 134 and 242 for 1 (Chopra 93*, Kohli 91*) lead Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited 266 (Shehzad 66, Umar 58, Nanda 3-24) by 110 runs
Delhi wrested the initiative halfway into their Nissar Trophy game against Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, as an unbroken 194-run stand for the second wicket between Aakash Chopra and Virat Kohli provided the hosts a platform from which they could establish control over the game.
Delhi, who bowled out SNGPL for 266, began their second innings trailing by 132. With the pitch offering lesser assistance to bowlers as the day progressed, Chopra and Kolhi took advantage after captain Virender Sehwag provided the early impetus. The overcast conditions and rain had aided the fast bowlers on the first day, in which 16 wickets fell, but Tuesday was hard on the bowlers, who had to toil in hot conditions.
Sehwag started with two back-to-back fours off the first two balls he faced from Imran Ali, who had dismissed him for a duck in the first innings. He was at ease against the bowling and played shots at will, clobbering 15 off an over from Imran - the most expensive of the day. He clubbed an inside-out shot over cover for a boundary, followed by a pull over midwicket for another four. Then came the big hit: Imran bowled a slower one, but Sehwag read it well and positioned himself to loft it over long-on. Imran, though, had his revenge, as Sehwag fell to the trap set by the SNGPL strike bowler. Imran banged one short, Sehwag went for a wild hook and was caught by Asad Ali at fine leg.
Chopra, who was focused on seeing the shine off the ball, gradually started opening up in combination with Kohli, who batted in his usual aggressive style. Facing Imran Khalid, the left-arm spinner, Chopra made use of the slow pitch to wait for the ball and hit three consecutive fours through the off side to move within touching distance of his half-century.
SNGPL's bowlers had made optimum use of the favourable weather on the first day, but the dryness in the pitch thwarted their efforts to extract some bounce on the second. Kohli brought up his second fifty of the game with a fluent boundary past extra cover, his tenth, off Asad Ali. Adopting a bold approach, Kohli forced the issue rather than wait for the bowlers to get tired. Chopra reached his half-century off the first ball post tea with a clip to midwicket off Khalid.
With hardly any movement for the bowlers, the pair went along building a platform for a big target. Both batsmen were quick on their feet and didn't hesitate to pull if the ball was short; when the slow bowlers pitched it up, both batsmen used their feet well. Khalid tried bowing into the pads, but Chopra gave himself room and hit it for a boundary through the covers. Kohli was severe on anything short against both spin and pace. The batsmen continued to dictate terms in the final session, forcing the bowlers to resort to a negative approach. Bowling from over the wicket, Khalid started pitching it way down the leg side to both the right-handers trying to force them to commit an error, but the batsmen were too smart to fall for the bait.
Mohammad Hafeez, the SNGPL captain, kept shuffling the bowlers and the field as the duo frustrated the visitors. Both the batsmen became a little circumspect once they reached the 90s. The bowlers will hope for some helpful conditions in the morning to bounce back in the game while both Chopra and Kohli will sleep with expectations of a hundred.
The Delhi duo had taken away the advantage from SNGPL, who had earlier gained a significant 132-run first-innings lead as Khurram Shehzad and Imran frustrated the hosts with some stubborn batting. Shehzad, overnight on 4, was the driving force behind as the visitors took what seemed to be a significant lead. But he and Ali made use of some ineffective bowling and cashed in on easy runs. Shehzad made a half-century as the Delhi bowlers struggled to bowl out the lower order. Just one wicket, that of Khalid, fell before lunch but Delhi returned to wrap up the remaining three wickets within seven overs after the break.