Nitish Rana played the "best knock" of his first-class career as Delhi shocked defending champions Vidarbha by six wickets in an incredible final day run chase in the Ranji Trophy on Wednesday. With this memorable run chase on day four, Delhi handed Vidarbha their first outright defeat in a first class game after three years. Chasing 347, Rana, who has made a name with his big-hitting exploits in the IPL, smashed an unbeaten 105 off only 68 balls as Delhi reached the target in 73 overs, leaving Vidarbha gutted.
Delhi now have 16 points and stay in hunt for a quarterfinal berth while Vidarbha stay put on 17 points. The chase was set up by openers Kunal Chandela (75 off 146) and Hiten Dalal (82 off 146) with a steady stand of 163 in under 49 overs. The left-handed Rana then took charge and sent the Vidarbha bowlers including fancied Umesh Yadav (0/85 in 19 overs) on a leather hunt with eight fours and seven sixes.
"I had promised our coach (KP) Bhaskar sir that if its 75 overs and around 320 runs, we will win. This is the best first class knock that I have played. I haven't forgotten the 2017 final in Indore, which Vidarbha won without playing outstanding cricket.
"I knew I can hit their spinners out of the ground," Rana told reporters having ripped opposition off-spinner Akshay Wakhare (64 off 9 overs) with slog sweeps, cuts and drives.
Vidarbha coach Chandrakant Pandit took a gamble with a sporting declaration but it backfired as a side with its back to the wall produced the best performance of the season. Openers Kunal and Hiten played confidently without taking pressure on an eased out track. Once Rana came in, Vidarbha sensing danger, deployed a negative field '7-2' (seven on the off side) field.
Their pacers Rajneesh Gurbani (0/64 in 12 overs) started bowling on an imaginary seventh off stump line.
The umpires started calling no ball and then Delhi started attacking as they were forced to change the line.
"I knew they would bowl negative line but what I didn't like was time wasting tactic. Once they started bowling within the stumps, I knew I will blast them if it's in my arc," said KKR's dependable middle-order batsman.
"This is my natural game and I don't like advise if people come and tell me to change my mindset. I only welcome advise when I need them," he said.
Vidarbha 179 and 330/4 declared. Delhi 163 and (target 347) 348/4 (Nitish Rana 105 no off 68 balls, Kunal Chandela 75, Hiten Dalal 82). Points: DELHI 6. VIDARBHA 0.
In Valsad: Gujarat 281 and 167. Punjab 229 and 109 all out (Gurkeerat 34; Nagwaswalla 5/50). Gujarat won by 110 runs. Points: Gujarat 6, Punjab 0.