Saurashtra will be the favourite in Rajkot when it hosts a depleted Delhi in a Ranji Trophy fourth-round Elite Group B game at the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) Stadium starting Tuesday.
Indian internationals Jaydev Unadkat and Cheteshwar Pujara, if available, will further bolster a Saurashtra side that will be riding the confidence wave after beating Mumbai by 48 runs in the last round.
Saurashtra’s first-ever win over Mumbai in Ranji Trophy history has placed it third on the points table with one win and two draws.
Mounting injury list
Meanwhile, Delhi is languishing in the seventh spot after losing to Maharashtra by nine wickets in the opening match and conceding first-innings leads to Assam and Tamil Nadu.
A lengthy fast-bowling injury list has compounded Delhi’s problems. Ishant Sharma and Navdeep Saini remain sidelined with side strain and abdominal strain, respectively. Mayank Yadav has a torn hamstring, while Simarjeet Singh has a heel injury.
Harshit Rana, the best pacer on show against Tamil Nadu, will also miss the Saurashtra game due to injury. Either Divij Mehra or Prince Yadav could get his maiden cap.
The Delhi selectors have dropped keeper-batter Anuj Rawat, who has just 157 runs in three matches at an average of under 30. Slow left-arm orthodox Vikas Mishra also faced the axe. Keeper Krish Yadav and opener Salil Malhotra have been added to the squad.
Delhi played its last match at home. The short turnaround time between matches (three days) — including air travel — and lack of options also mean Delhi can ill afford a rest-and-rotate policy. But it’s not all doom and gloom for Delhi, at least off the field. In a welcome relief from the oppressive cold back home, Yash Dhull’s men have been greeted by a refreshing mix of hazy sunshine and cool breeze in Rajkot.
At Feroz Shah Kotla, against Tamil Nadu last week, the Delhi spinners often lacked potency and control on a good batting wicket. They should treat that as a red flag and try to control the run rate for longer periods, especially against a Saurashtra side with middle-order bulwark Sheldon Jackson, who is adept at dealing with spinners and can take them on when needed.
Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, the left-arm spin bowling all-rounder, has been an asset to the home team. He claimed a match haul of six for 154 against Mumbai before following it up with a career-best First-Class score of 90 in the third innings.
Delhi will look up to Dhruv Shorey to continue his purple patch with the bat and hope skipper Dhull comes into his own and lends spine to the batting.
Delhi needs a win to keep its flagging knockout qualification hopes alive.