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Savage fury from Shewag

The two big guns in the North Zone Ranji Trophy league, Punjab and Delhi, met head to head at the Punjab Agricultural University Ground in Ludhiana last season. In this, the penultimate fixture for both sides, Punjab won the toss and electing to bat, amassed 530/7 before declaring late on the second day.

Reetinder Sodhi and Pankaj Dharmani notched up centuries, Dinesh Mongia fell eight runs short of the same landmark, skipper Vikram Rathour weighed in with 75 of his own, and Sanjay Kumar made 66. In general there was much merry making at the expense of the Delhi attack for whom Virender Shewag bowled just four overs without reward.

Delhi openers Devinder Sharma and Ashu Dani put on 58 runs without being separated on the second evening. Although Sharma fell for 28 next morning, Dani waged a lone battle in the company of a fickle middle order which failed to stick around after getting off to good starts. He was fourth out for a fine 140 and when Mithun Minhas joined him in the dressing room six runs later, it looked curtains for Delhi at 241/5.

That set the stage for a quite astonishing counterattack from Virender Shewag who walked in at No.7, rather low billing for a batsman of his calibre. Shewag added 99 with stumper Vijay Dahiya, then a further 153 with H Chaudhury for the eighth wicket of which the latter's share was 32. Unbeaten on 96 overnight, he completed his hundred early on the fourth day.

Indeed at 493/6, Punjab had seemingly won the battle for the first innings lead. But two wickets fell in the space of a solitary run and No. 10 Ashish Nehra joined Shewag at the crease. The duo took Delhi past the 500 mark before Shewag's vigil finally wavered and he became Harbhajan Singh's fifth victim. In just over four hours spent at the wicket, the stocky middle order bat had bludgeoned 187 off just 175 balls, including 20 fours and, hold your breath, nine sixes. There were some badly disfigured figures among the Punjab attack as a direct result of Shewag's effervescent hitting.

Delhi's last wicket pair failed to overhaul Punjab on first innings by just three runs. The rest of the match was merely an exercise in batting practise for Punjab who reached 227/3 in their second knock before the game was called off. But Shewag's brazen aggression was the abiding memory of the encounter.

Ranji Trophy, 1999-2000

Punjab v Delhi at Ludhiana, 13-16 Nov 1999
[Scorecard | Match Reports]

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Virender Shewag

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