Mumbai: Test discard Aakash Chopra proved his mettle once again with a fighting unbeaten 85 and along with middle order batsman Rajat Bhatia (batting on 81) staged a fine recovery to keep Delhi hopes alive in the Ranji Trophy Elite Group final as his team finished the second day on 196 for four in their first innings against Uttar Pradesh on Thursday.
Uttar Pradesh resuming their first innings at their overnight score of 292 for seven, made a respectable 342 all out off 110.1 overs just 54 minutes before lunch on the second day with overnight batsman Ravikanth Shukla missing his century by four runs.
However, his fighting innings of 96 off 232 balls in 444 minutes with ten hits to the fence and a fruitful 44 runs partnership for the ninth wicket with tailender Praveen Gupta in 15.5 overs helped his team reach a respectable total.
Young Delhi seamers Pradeep Sangwan (four for 80) and Sumit Narwal (four for 81) were the most successful bowlers for their team.
Uttar Pradesh seamer and Indian ODI specialist Praveen Kumar then reduced Delhi to 15 for three off 6.1 overs picking up the wickets of India player and Delhi skipper Gautam Gambhir (0), Shikhar Dhawan (14) and Mitun Manhas (0) with Chopra being a helpless spectator from the other end.
When young tear-away fast bowler Sudeep Tyagi sent back Aditya Jain for eight, Delhi was in real trouble at 36 for four off 20.3 overs before Chopra in the company of Bhatia retrieved the situation with an unbeaten fifth wicket stand of 160 runs off 283 balls in 183 minutes.
Chopra, who has hit fifteen boundaries so far has faced 205 balls so far in a 269-minute stay at the wicket for his unbeaten 85 while Bhatia, who is going strong on 81, has been the more attacking of the two with ten fours and three sixes, which have come off 135 balls in 184 minutes.
In fact both the not out batsmen complimented each other with some wonderful strokes on either side of the wicket and but for their efforts Delhi would have been in dire straights.
Even though Delhi still trail by 146 runs, Chopra and Bhatia have give a lease of life for their team and with still six first innings wickets in tact they will be eying for crucial first innings lead before consolidating their position.
For UP, their skipper Mohammad Kaif effected quick bowling changes to dislodge the fifth wicket partnership but in vain even though Praveen Kumar (three for 44) was the pick of their bowlers.
UP first innings: 342 all out (T Shrivastav 105, R Shukla 96, P Sangwan 4-80, S Narwal 4-81) vs Delhi 196 for four (A Chopra batting 85, R Bhatia batting 81, P Kumar 3-44)
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