New Delhi: Delhi were down and out at 74 for 5 in the first innings of their Ranji Trophy match against Baroda on Wednesday when Puneet Bisht came to the crease. Answering his team's call, the stoic-looking batsman set Delhi - who have performed well below par this season - on the way to victory with a maiden unbeaten double-century.
After forging an innings-building partnership (136) with Mithun Manhas on Day Two, the 25-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman also stitched together three fifty-run stands - 67 for the seventh wicket with Sunny Sehrawat, 56 for the eighth with Ashish Nehra and 67 for the tenth with Vikas Mishra.
"Coming into bat this morning, I was under some pressure because I was the last recognised batsman left," said Bisht after his heroic innings on Thursday. "They [team's bowlers] should be given credit for their efforts. They helped me in taking our innings forward."
Bisht was aware of the fact that the wicket at the Kotla eases out after the first session of play, and his sole aim was to occupy the crease.
"I just wanted to stay at the wicket for long because we knew that the wicket here eases out in the middle and last session of play. Our target this morning was to go past Baroda's score first before gaining a substantial lead," said Bisht, who made his debut against the same opponents in 2006.
The right-hander executed the team management's plan well as after hitting 21 boundaries on Wednesday, he sent only two balls to the fence in the morning session on Thursday, before hitting seven more, including two maximums, in his 290-ball knock.
"I started playing freely once we went past Baroda's total of 318," he said while acknowledging the fact that the team was in a very good position to go for an outright win.
"We want to use the conditions well tomorrow morning as there will be some swing for our bowlers. If we take a few wickets early on, then we are certainly in for a big win."
Though he was happy to contribute down the order, Bisht relished the chance of playing in the top four.
"I have opened the batting as well as batted at No. 4, so playing up in the order is not an issue. And though I will go according to the verdict of the team management, it will be delightful if I get promoted."
He also complimented Irfan Pathan, who finished with 7 for 114 in Delhi's first innings. "Pathan bowled extremely well. We knew that if we play him well, then it would be easy to negotiate the rest of their bowlers," he said.
Bisht was eager for Delhi to put the final nail in the coffin by finishing off Baroda on Friday. "We haven't had a good season until now, so an emphatic victory here will put our campaign back on track."
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