SRINAGAR:   Defending champions Delhi proved to be a stronger opponents in the end  for Jammu and Kashmir, thumping the visitors by 38 runs in their opening fixture of the north zone leg of the Vijay Hazare Trophy played at Ferozshah Kotla Ground, Delhi.

After opting to bowl first, J&K did relatively well to restrict powerful Delhi batting lineup to 256 for in the allotted 50 overs, and were along nicely in their chase with score 155 for 4 inside 30 overs, but late order collapse aided by hosts’ superb bowling effort meant the Parvez Rasool led side fall way behind in the end.

On a slowish and low wicket, Delhi meandered their way to 250-mark thanks to a solid opening stand between skipper Gautam Gambhir and Unmukt Chand. The duo added 99, but middle order failed to capitalize on the solid base.

Gambhir  looked in good touch as he hit seven crisp boundaries in his 79-ball innings. Playing on a sub-standard track, not conducive for good strokeplay, the left-hander waited for the loose deliveries and completed his 50 with a late cut off Rasool.

The J&K skipper however removed both openers. While Chand, whose 44 came off 73 balls yielding him half a dozen fours, was bowled trying to whip the offie across the line, Gambhir got a faster delivery and was rapped on the pads trying to play the cut shot with very little room for it.

Virender Sehwag’s decision to continue batting at No 3 didn’t make much of a difference to his poor form, dismissed by slow left arm Wasim Raza for 15.

Sehwag played an exquisite square cut but when Raza fired one in the blockhole, he tried to dig it out. The ball timed his spot jump nicely to take a neat return catch.

 Puneet Bisht (39) and Sumit Narwal (22) produced the fireworks in the late order to take score to 256.

For J&K, Raza snared three wickets and Parvez and medium pacer Ram Dayal claimed a brace apiece.

In reply, Jammu and Kashmir had a rollicking start with Adil Rishi (36) and Shubham Khajuria (46) adding 72 runs in 11 overs for the second wicket, after losing opener Manish Dogra early in the piece.

Once the duo was gone, seasoned players Parvez and Hardeep did a rearguard and drove their team forward.

The visitors were going comfortably well when Parvez and Hardeep Singh were batting together, but once the skipper got out for 30, laced with a four and couple of maximums, J&K batsmen faltered.

Singh tried hard to get J&K close to the target on his way to 53-ball 45, but it was asking too much as last four batsmen fell for just 18 and team was eventually bowled out for 218.

Pacers Sumit Narwal (2/32) and Vikas Tokas (2/28) were the standout out performers for Delhi.

 “I had expected that we could restrict Delhi to 220 but last two overs cost us dearly. Even while batting, we were doing well during field restrictions,” Rasool said after the match.

BRIEF SCORE: Delhi 256/8 in 50 overs (G Gambhir 58, V Sehwag 15, U Chand 42, Waseem Raza 3/58, Parvez Rasool 2/52) beat J&K 218 in 45.4 overs (S Khajuria 46, P Rasool 30, Hardeep Singh 45).

Inputs from PTI