Displaying steely resolve, Dhruv Shorey stood out with an unbeaten century and steered Delhi to 271 for six, but Vidarbha did just enough to share honours on day one of the Ranji Trophy final in Indore.
The 256-ball 123 was Shorey's third, and undoubtedly the most important, knock of his first-class career. Batting almost through the day, Shorey hit 17 boundaries.
The 25-year-old, who walked into bat in the very first over of the match following Kunal Chandela’s dismissal, survived testing opening spells by the Vidarbha seamers before opening up himself at the Holkar Stadium.
Shorey added 105 runs for the fifth wicket with Himmat Singh, who produced a fluent 66 off 72 balls with the help of eight boundaries and two sixes.
Considering that they lost their openers, including the seasoned Gautam Gambhir, within the first hour of the big final, Delhi would be contend with the way the day progressed.
Debutant seamer Aditya Thakare, playing in place of Umesh Yadav, and Rajneesh Gurbani finished the day with two wickets apiece.
Thakare gave his team, a first-time finalist, as well as his first-class career a head-start as he removed Kunal Chandela in the first over. After beating the opener with an out-swinger, the India U19 World Cup standby induced an edge with another away-going delivery, and skipper Faiz Fazal pounced on to the offer at first slip.
Delhi were 1-1 in the big final, and in came Shorey to join Gambhir.
Vidarbha did not take long to break into another round of celebration as off-spinner Akshay Wakhare clean bowled Gambhir (15) with a ball that went straight through after hitting the batsman’s pad. It was a milestone of sorts for Wakhare as he reached his 200th wicket in front of a handful of spectators.
The side’s senior-most batsman back in the dressing room, Delhi needed a partnership, but that was not to be as Nitish Rana (21) was trapped in front of the wicket by Thakare.
Going through an indifferent run of form this season, skipper Rishabh Pant (21) showed poor temperament when he slashed a wide delivery to give semifinal hero Gurbani his first wicket of the match.
With Delhi in a spot of bother at 99 for four, Himmat joined Shorey and the duo looked to rebuild the innings. While Himmat played fluently, Shorey was a picture of concentration as they helped the seven-time champions come back into the game.
Having lost the openers within the first hour, Delhi did much better in the post-lunch session, adding 91 runs for the loss of just one wicket in 27 overs. The turnaround was due to the 105-run fifth-wicket partnership between Shorey and Himmat.
Having flicked and pulled Gurbani twice for boundaries, Himmat’s innings came to an end when the medium pacer had him caught behind in what looked like a debatable decision.
Manan Sharma too perished quickly, thanks to an outstanding catch by Fazal at first slip.
Earlier, Thakare looked impressive as he made the Delhi batsmen hop by aiming at their body while also beating them with ones that moved away. There was one over when Thakare struck Gambhir's pads three times.