Delhi will be bolstered by the presence of veteran opener Gautam Gambhir, who is set to make a comeback in the playing XI in Thursday’s Vijay Hazare Trophy quarterfinal against Andhra, at the Airforce Ground in Palam.
Delhi will start as favourites against domestic minnows Andhra but K Sanath Kumar’s side will like to do what Maharashtra did with Mumbai on Wednesday. Delhi’s season has been inconsistent as it started with four consecutive wins before losing the last two matches. It was left to Bengal who beat Himachal Pradesh to pave the way for Delhi’s qualification.
The highlight of Delhi’s campaign has been performance of its batsmen, with Unmukt Chand, signalling his return with 319 runs including a hundred with broken jaw and two half-centuries at an average close to 85. Dhruv Shorey, who is expected to start off in Chennai Super Kings’ playing XI, has continued his good form in the longer version with 231 runs. Hiten Dalal, who was strangely not picked for the Ranji Trophy or Mushtaq Ali T20s, has been a revelation with 283 runs in his debut for the senior team. Hiten has hit three half-centuries in six games.
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Nitish Rana (274 urns) has been consistent while Rishabh Pant showed his brilliance during his 69-ball hundred in a losing cause against Himachal Pradesh in the group league stage. The bowling will be spearheaded by Ishant Sharma and supported by one of India’s quickest bowlers in Navdeep Saini. Kulwant Khejroliya will bring in the left-arm option while Pawan Negi and Harsh Tyagi are the two left-arm spinners in the line-up.
Having played on a firm even bounce tracks in Himachal Pradesh, the biggest challenge for Delhi will be to counter the slowness of the Airforce ground track.
Andhra’s strength in the tournament has been their pacers P Girinath Reddy (12 wickets), I Karthik Raman (10 wickets), Bandaru Ayappa (10 wickets). But their trump card in the quarterfinal could be former Baroda left-arm spinner Bharghav Bhatt, who is now playing as a professional.
In the batting front, Andhra’s main performers are Kona Bharath (361runs), Hanuma Vihari (347 runs) and Ricky Bhui (220 runs).