After a week’s break, Delhi resumes its Ranji Trophy campaign by hosting two-time defending champion Vidarbha at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground in a crucial tie beginning on Saturday.
The return of Ishant Sharma and the inclusion of left-arm pacer Kulwant Khejrolia have strengthened the home team in conditions that could assist fast bowling. Vidarbha clearly has the batting to deal with the challenges. Delhi’s third change is opener Hiten Dalal.
Favourite Vidarbha is currently tied-third with Karnataka on the points-table with 17 points. Andhra (21) and Punjab (18) are ahead but have played a game more than Vidarbha.
Delhi, which has also played four matches like Vidarbha, has 10 points. Before getting a mandatory week’s break, Delhi did well in its previous two outings. It beat Hyderabad here and claimed three points from host Punjab.
Overall, Delhi’s batting has stuttered in most matches while its bowling has not been particularly threatening. Indeed, injuries to some of its fast bowlers – Pradeep Sangwan, Vikas Tokas, Pawan Suyal – and the call of national duty for Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant and Navdeep Saini has hurt the team.
As a result, this depleted unit could find it tough to deal with an mupbeat Vidarbha. With cold wave returning to the capital, the visiting team could find the conditions more challenging than the opposition.
Vidarbha has two outright wins at home against Bengal and Rajasthan (with bonus point) and gained the first innings lead against leader Andhra. Only Punjab snatched three points from host Vidarbha so far this season.
Former Karnataka batsman Ganesh Satish has been on a roll scoring 445 runs, including a double century and a century. Skipper Faiz Fazal, Mohit Kale and Akshay Wadkar have all aggregated over 200 runs with an average of 50. Among the bowlers, left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate has claimed 22 wickets, followed by off-spinner Akshay Wakhare, with 11. It remains to be seen how effective these slower bowlers prove over the next four days.
Delhi’s batting mainstay remains vice-captain Nitish Rana (321 runs).
Opener Kunal Chandela, Lalit Yadav, skipper Dhruv Shorey and Anuj Rawat have tallied over 150 runs in the season so far. Surely, lack of big runs from its top order has consistently hurt Delhi.
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