Bhagmender Lather powered to his second successive century in the Goswami Ganesh Dutt Memorial Cricket Tournament to help Delhi Challengers win their second game in the league phase and qualify for the semi-finals.
Lather’s 125 (73 balls) on Tuesday that followed last week’s 123 against Golden Eagle, took his team to an imposing 287/5 against Friends Cricket Club in a match reduced to 30 overs due to rain.
Against a bowling attack that had the likes of off-spinner Lalit Yadav (3/32) and left-arm spinner Vision Panchal (3/34), the total proved to be too big for Friends Club.
“When I had walked into bat, we had already lost two wickets (28/2 within five overs). The game had been reduced to 30-overs-a-side. So, it was important for me to settle down first and work the ball around for singles and doubles,” said Bhagmender after the match.
“The plan was to get anything above 250, which we thought would be challenging for the opposition team.”
Once he had settled in, the left-handed batsman opened up and used the straight boundary to good effect, hitting most of his nine sixes down the ground.
“I was expecting them to throw an off-spinner at me and was ready for it. I worked them around but whenever they were off target, I targeted them. Thankfully, I managed to hit sixes,” said the 26-year-old.
Such was Lather’s domination that no other batsman could even get to a half-century and Delhi Challengers still managed runs at close to 10 an over.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Uvais Ahmad (38 off 22 balls) and Akhil (36 off 14) chipped in with some runs towards the end.
In response, Friends Cricket Club folded for 219 in 28.4 overs.
They were in the game only till their left-handed opening batsman Gagan Vats was at crease.
The 23-year-old, who has represented Delhi at under-16, under-19 and under-25 levels, and will be eyeing a spot in the senior team this season, hit 75 off 53 balls.
“This (288) was a challenging target. While chasing, I had to maintain a positive strike rate. But we kept losing wickets. We couldn’t build partnerships,” said Vats, who top-scored for the Delhi under-19s in the 2018-19 season.
“My plan was to use variations and ensure the batsmen got confused,” said off-spinner Lalit Yadav, who had batsmen caught at cover, stumped and caught behind.
The match would have been within their grasp, had Friends Club not conceded 79 runs in the last five overs. That onslaught, especially by Akhil of Delhi Challengers, took the game beyond Friends.
“The bowling strategy was a bit faulty. We could have stopped at around 250-260 which would have been chaseable. But I think we messed up by giving runs in the end despite the fact that a power-hitter like Lalit Yadav was already in the pavilion,” said Vats.