Ranji Trophy: Mehra shows how bad Sarfaraz and Prithvi are and gets his first five-for.

Test hopefuls Prithvi Shaw and Sarfaraz Khan would not want to see how Divij Mehra’s military medium pace led to their dismissals. Mehra hit Shaw with the nip-backer in both innings, a shot that the Mumbai batsman knows all too well. So did his teammate Sarfaraz, whose off-stump flipped over when another Mehra’s ball hit it, giving him a rare first-ball duck. After Delhi added 54 runs to their overnight score of 315 for 7 to end their first innings on 369, Mumbai’s two most important batsmen went back to the hut and the record champions fell to 168 for 9 at the end of the day. Their lead was only 92 runs.

Shaw came to this game after making a 300 against Assam, but he only played for 19 balls and got out for 16.

the bat is down in time for it to get stuck in front. In the past, Trent Boult and Tim Southee in Wellington and Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins in Adelaide beat him when the ball came in. Mehra’s ball was probably the fastest one he threw all day, but it only went 121 km/h. This is strange because he is planning to return to Test cricket.

His plan wasn’t to narrow things down. “Players like Prithvi Shaw and Sarfaraz Khan are too good to give width. They’ll hit you just to have fun. “My plan was to bowl inswingers so they couldn’t open their arms, and it worked,” Mehra would say later.

After adding nine more runs to the total, Mehra dislodged Arman Jaffer, who nicked to Anuj Rawat behind the stumps after striking a couple of delightful boundaries. Sarfaraz walked in. He is a regular century-maker, and his absence from the Australia series was criticised. He had just made a hundred in the first innings. But he, like Shaw, couldn’t stay away from the one that bent back into the stumps. Musheer Khan, Sarfaraz’s 17-year-old brother, was also upset by Mehra. People have been worried about how often he plays away from the body. With wicketkeeper Anuj Rawat standing up to the stumps, Mehra got one ball to go through the space between his bat and pad. Instead of speed, the ball went 116 km/h, and his technical mistake caused him to lose.

Soon, Delhi fell to 37 for 5 in the bitter cold of Delhi. Ajinkya Rahane and Shams Mulani put up a fight, but it wasn’t enough to save them. The two of them put together 59 runs before Hrithik Shokeen caught Mulani in front of the wicket for 30 runs in 66 balls.

Rahane and Tanush Kotian got things back on track, but Pranshu Vijayran got rid of the Mumbai captain for 51 runs when the score was 141/6. Rahane had to work hard to get to 50, but he never looked upset. Vijayran beat his outside edge repeatedly before finding the outside edge, and Vaibhav Rawal took an excellent low catch at the second slip. Kotian held firm but Mumbai lost the wickets of Tushar Deshpande and Mohit Avasthi before bad light stopped play. With the fall of Avasthi, Mehra got his first five-wicket haul and turned the game in favour of Delhi.

Mehra has had a rough start to the year 2023. He was picked for the first time for the Ranji Trophy, but was then let go to play for the U-25 team. When he got to Hyderabad to play in the U-25 match, seamer Kuldip Yadav got hurt, so the senior team asked him to play against Andhra. His 55-run partnership with Harshit Rana at the 10th wicket helped Delhi get their first three points of the season (first-innings lead). Now he has taken his first five wickets.

Mehra was shocked at how lucky he was. He said, “I took three flights in two days to make my debut against Andhra, and now I have five wickets.” At the beginning of the season, I never thought I’d be picked for Ranji,” he said.

If Delhi’s top bowlers had been healthy, the 20-year-old might not have been in the running. Five of them are hurt, including Ishan Sharma, Simarjeet Singh, Pradeep Sangwan, Mayank Yadav, and Kuldip Yadav. But it didn’t matter because Mehra made his first mark in first-class cricket.

Briefly, Mumbai 293 and 168 for 9 are ahead of Delhi 369 and out by 92 runs. Ajinkya Rahane has 51 runs, Tanish Kotian has 48 runs; Divij Mehra has 5/29 and Pranshu Vijayran has 2/40.


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