For Mumbai, it must have felt like a bolt from the blue. Delhi, which had been struggling for so long this season in the Ranji Trophy, was suddenly a different team, standing toe to toe with Mumbai for all four days of their contest at the Ferozeshah Kotla grounds.
Himmat Singh, thrust into captaincy for this game in the absence of the indisposed Yash Dhull, was elated to have led his team to victory. He wasn’t overawed by the additional responsibilities, having had experience leading the State team in age-group cricket.
Himmat felt that the team had struggled so far because the new members – the frontline fast bowlers were all injured – took time to fully understand what areas they were lacking in and what was expected of them. It wasn’t a case of better planning but of better execution of plans.
“The team has changed, but the roles of bowlers and batters are clear. Everyone knows what’s expected of them; what lines and lengths they have to bowl, etc. Then it doesn’t matter what team you’re facing. The players who came in for this game were all part of the squad, and have been with the team. That helped. This win came a bit late for us; if we had one or two wins at the start of the season, we would have now been competing for the knockouts,” he said after Delhi’s victory on Friday.
Delhi’s top-order batters attacked from the get-go in their chase of 95 on day four. The contrast was striking: in the first innings, boundaries were few and far between. The counter-attacking approach resulted in the team gaining victory within the morning session. Was it a plan?
“Every batsman has a different mindset. It depends on what he is feeling that day. We hadn’t planned to adopt this approach as a team. Anuj [Rawat] started to attack, he got his result and opened up the match for us. Sometimes it works in your favour, sometimes it doesn’t. But you need to take those chances,” explained Himmat.
Knockouts are out of bounds now for Delhi, but Himmat felt his team needed to maintain the standards it set in this game.
“Now that we’ve done well, we need to set this benchmark. From now on, we will be expected to play this well. We will expect this from ourselves, and others will expect this from us. We need to maintain this standard, and not get complacent,” he signed off.