Unmukt, Dhawan tons put hosts in command

Khurram Habib

New Delhi, Nov. 25 -- For youngsters eyeing a Test cap, media spotlight can be distracting, and Twenty20 cricket can aggravate it.

Unmukt Chand has been through all this. While he was still seeking terra firma in first-class cricket, the U-19 World Cup win this year turned him into a star. Then came the Champions League T20 in South Africa where a technique-be-damned approach took the focus off the big test that is Ranji Trophy.

Thus, he struggled for runs in Ranji again after last year's flop show. After the 151 he scored on debut, he hadn't hit a ton for 15 first-class games.

"After the CLT20, he was trying to get his runs through point and gully. Now, he is giving himself time and playing in the V," said his coach Sanjay Bhardwaj after his ward hit 134 not out against the Lakshmipathy Balaji-led Tamil Nadu attack as Delhi, helped by his and skipper Shikhar Dhawan's (104) flawless centuries, posted 287/1 on Day One at the Kotla.

Chand, who pushed the fielders back with confident hits over infield, said: "I had pressure to deliver. When I toured New Zealand with the 'A' team a couple of months back, there was this burden of expectations. Now, after a few Ranji knocks, that is off."

Tamil Nadu seemed to have got excited by the grass on the pitch and chose to bowl.

It was a lottery for Delhi as the openers, after negotiating the early overs, raised 205 on a placid track.

Dhawan, who had over 500 runs in Duleep and Challenger series this year, had appeared to be tapering off till this knock full of crisp shots. Dhawan led the way with blistering strokeplay.

Brief scores: Delhi 287-1 (U. Chand 134 batting, S. Dhawan 104, M. Sharma 40 batting; A. Srinivas 1-60) vs TN

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.