New Delhi: Shikhar Dhawan served a timely reminder to the national selectors with a brilliant century as Delhi defeated England by six wickets to hand the visitors their second successive defeat in warm-up games here on Tuesday. Chasing a difficult 294 for five set by England, Delhi rode on skipper Dhawan’s 110 and Milind Kumar’s unbeaten 78 to overhaul the target with nine balls to spare.
Left-hander Dhawan, who last played for India in the West Indies, cracked his 110 off only 109 balls to set up a chase which initially looked difficult. He hit 13 boundaries and three huge sixes — one each off Jade Dernbach, James Tredwell and Stuart Meaker.
If Dhawan and Unmukt Chand (37) started the chase well, adding 98 for the opening stand, unheralded youngster Milind and veteran Rajat Bhatia (45 not out) finished off the run chase with a flourish as they smashed 103 runs off 72 balls. The day, however, belonged to Dhawan who hogged the limelight with brilliant authorative display. Time and again, he drove the pace quartet of Steven Finn, Dernbach, Meaker and Chris Woakes through the covers. The moment, the pacers dug it in short, he was quickly in a position to play the pull shot.
Dhawan completed his century off 98 balls with a big six off Tredwell over deep mid-wicket. Credit should also be given to young Milind, who showed a lot of maturity and paced his innings to perfection. Whether it was playing the slash over deep third man or driving on the up, Milind had an answer to everything that was thrown at him.
Milind hit seven fours and three sixes in his 85-ball knock. The shot that stood out was a six over extra cover off Meaker. Earlier, Ian Bell scored a fine century as England posted a challenging score of 294 for five after being put into bat. Having scored 91 in the first match against India A, Bell was again in fine form as he batted with lot of responsibility scoring 108 runs with the help of 10 fours and two huge sixes.
Earlier, Bell hit 10 boundaries and two sixes in 125 balls while Morgan hit five fours and two sixes. Craig Kieswetter also thrashed the Delhi bowlers to finish with 41 off 27 balls which included three sixes. The main feature of the England innings was Bell’s 113-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Eoin Morgan, who smashed 52 off 55 balls.
Morgan-Bell duo got their runs in only 93 balls as the Delhi attack led by India discard Ashish Nehra looked pedestrian. While Parvinder Awana bowled a good first spell, it was certainly not enough as England got off to a good start with skipper Alastair Cook (44) and Bell adding 70 runs for the opening wicket.
Cook, who opted out of the first practice match, decided to rest Kevin Pietersen on Tuesday. The left-hander hit some lovely strokes during his 57-ball stay. The best of his seven boundaries was a cover drive off Awana. While Cook was batting, Bell decided to play the role of second fiddle as he let his captain take bulk of the strike.
It was seamer Sumit Narwal, who gave Delhi their first breakthrough when he bowled Cook. Young Joe Root tried to play a sweep shot off left-arm spinner Varun Sood and the resultant skier was taken by Punit Bisht. Samit Patel (13) was then bowled by an arm ball from Sood that kept very low.
Once Morgan joined Bell, the duo started taking on the Delhi bowlers. Bell hit Rajat Bhatia for a hige six into the middle tier of the deep mid-wicket stands. Bell’s second six was straight into the sightscreen. For Delhi, young spinner Sood was the best bowler with figures of three for 45 as Nehra went for 48 in nine wicketless overs.