Picking a five wicket haul and still ending up on the losing side is not an experience any bowler will cherish. On Tuesday, when Delhi lost the fifth round of the Ranji Trophy to Haryana, Delhi's Sumit Narwal had to go through such an experience, against his former side. On a track which demanded expertise to get a wicket, 30-year old Narwal proved that why he is a valuable asset for Delhi. His five for 35 in 16 overs was an example of how a bowler could be among the wickets using different strategies based on his first class experience.
Delhi had already conceded an 83-run first innings lead in getting bowled out on 224 in reply to Haryana's 307 in the first innings. If they were to go home with anything more than one point, Delhi had no option other than getting Haryana out cheaply in the second so that they could think of an outright win and the six-plus points it came with. Sumit Narwal used the new ball well alongside Parwinder Awana and settled very early on a strategy that suited the Lahli wicket ó that of getting the batsmen out by making them falter on their favourite strokes.
In the eighth over, Narwal asked for a deep square-leg and a fine leg for opener Nitin Saini. His earlier meetings with the Haryana wicket-keeper helped him figure that Saini was a good puller of the ball. The next delivery, Narwal bent his back and dug in a short pitched ball at Saini. The batsman promptly deposited the hook straight into the hands of Vikas Mishra at fine leg.
Shikhar Dhawan used his main bowlers wisely giving them ample time to rest. As Rahul Dalal was looking to further his innings, Dhawan immediately halted the spinners and asked the pacers to take control. And once again, Narwal did not disappoint his captain. In the 31st over with Haryana on 68 for three, Narwal dug another short ball at Dalal. The softness of the ball ensured that it did not climb fast at the batsman and Dalal could not get clean contact. Square leg latched on to the catch as Haryana slipped further.
Next to go was Jayant Yadav. Early on Day Four, Narwal knew he had to make the most of the conditions to ensure Haryana, whose lead was 250 at that point, did not get further ahead in the game. Narwal struck Yadav on the pads with an in-cutter to take his tally to three, on the second ball after the start of play. Haryana had lost seven wickets by then and Amit Mishra alongside Mohit Sharma were enroute to another partnership. Narwal scalped Mohit with a similar delivery that he bowled to Dalal, ending the 29-run stand. Finally his fifth victim was Amit Mishra, who having made 74, couldn't read the slower one and scooped it to mid-off to end the Haryana innings.
Despite the veteranís canny effort, Delhi's batsmen let the side down for the second time in the match. But Narwal's efforts would surely be a positive for the next round.