Delhi faces a daunting task of stopping the Mumbai juggernaut when the two sides meet at the Arun Jaitley stadium here for a Ranji Trophy clash.
The fortunes of the two teams after five rounds couldn’t be more different: Delhi, with just five points, is fighting to avoid relegation, while Mumbai, with three wins, looks likely to qualify for the knockouts and given the form of some of its players, is among the favourites to clinch the title.
Lack of depth in bowling has been Delhi’s achilles heel this season.
None of the frontline fast bowlers are available, and no bowler has taken more than nine wickets with the result that the team has been able to bowl out an opposition just once in seven attempts, conceding more than 400 runs four times – against Assam, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Andhra.
Mumbai, on the other hand, has been well served by the spin duo of Tanush Kotian (19 wickets), and Shams Mulani (35 wickets).
Mulani, the left-arm spinner, is the second-highest wicket-taker so far in the Ranji Trophy this season, behind Kerala’s Jalaj Saxena.
The centre of attention, however, will be Prithvi Shaw, who smashed 379 against Assam in Mumbai’s previous contest.
Batting behemoth Ajinkya Rahane is also among the runs, having scored a double ton and a 191 this season, and will be another batter likely to take advantage of a weak opposition bowling attack.
Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal will not be available for this game due to injury. Suryakumar Yadav and Shardul Thakur are members of the India squad for the One-Day International series against New Zealand and will miss out as well. For Delhi, skipper Yash Dhull will miss out after coming down with a fever and sore throat with Himmat Singh leading the side instead.
Dhruv Shorey has shone the brightest among Delhi’s batters with three centuries (including an unbeaten double) and two half-centuries.
The team will also be buoyed by the effort of middle-order batter Himmat Singh in the previous game against Andhra: his 104 went a long way towards giving Delhi the unlikely first-innings lead after Andhra had piled on 459.
A defeat, which is likely, will make the final round of the group stage crucial for Delhi in its fight to avoid relegation to Plate Group.
Only Chandigarh (three points) and Nagaland (one point) currently have fewer points than Delhi. The two teams with the fewest points from among the Elite Group teams after the seven rounds will be relegated.
A severe cold wave alert has been issued by the India Meteorological Department for the next week. Mornings may be difficult to negotiate for batters, especially when they face fast bowling, and for fielders to field the ball.