Ranji Trophy: Rampaging Karnataka gets more ammo for Delhi clash

The addition of Manish Pandey and K.L. Rahul, who were both part of India’s T20 squad against New Zealand, will offer Karnataka further impetus against Delhi

Delhi's Rishabh Pant (left) and Karnataka's Mayank Agarwal during their practice session at Alur KSCA grounds in Bengaluru on Wednesday.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

After three wins from three games, including two with a bonus point, there aren’t many boxes left for Karnataka to tick. Its batsmen and bowlers have made their presence felt so stirringly that the team is already on the cusp of qualification for the knockouts.

As it takes on Delhi in its fourth Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ encounter at the Alur grounds near here from Thursday, it will look to keep up the intensity. The addition of Manish Pandey and KL Rahul, who were both part of India’s T20 squad against New Zealand, will offer the home side further impetus.

“It's good to have them back,” said skipper Vinay Kumar. “In Shivamogga (versus Hyderabad), having Rahul and Karun Nair put the pressure straight away on the opposition. Our batting has been good and with the two coming in, it will get even better.”

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As a consequence, D. Nischal, who made his first-class debut in the win against Maharashtra in Pune, and Pavan Deshpande will miss out. It remains to be seen if Shreyas Gopal, who didn’t feature in Pune in spite of a nine-wicket haul in the previous match, returns to the eleven.

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“We need to think whether we should go with an extra spinner or a fast bowler,” Vinay said. “For the past two three days, weather has been nice and might help the quicks. In Bengaluru, seamers always get a bit of help. But you never know how it is going to be [on the day of the match].”

Delhi though isn’t as spoilt for choice. Captain Ishant Sharma is absent as he has chosen to rest ahead of the Test series against Sri Lanka. In his place, the young Rishabh Pant will marshal the side. But with Delhi having won two of its three matches, the 20-year-old sounded confident.

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“It's a setback that Ishant is not playing,” said Pant. “But we have bowlers who we feel can do the job. We are playing well and we would like that to continue.”

At the nets on Wednesday, Pant, a compulsive stroke-player, smashed most balls long.  It’s the kind of uncluttered thinking with which he appears to approach captaincy too. Delhi was bothered neither about Karnataka nor the weather he insisted.

“I am just giving confidence to those who are not feeling that great. Just telling them to be positive and that I will support,” he said. The success of this will be evident in the next four days.

Teams (from):

Karnataka: R. Vinay Kumar (capt), Karun Nair (vice-captain), R. Samarth, Mayank Agarwal, C.M. Gautam, Manish Pandey, K.L. Rahul, K. Gowtham, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ronit More, Pavan Deshpande, J. Suchith, Mir Kaunain Abbas, T. Pradeep.

Delhi:
Rishabh Pant (capt), Unmukt Chand, Gautam Gambhir, Vikas Tokas, Vikas Mishra, Dhruv Shorey, Himmat Singh, Navdeep Saini, Nitish Rana, Anuj Rawat, Pulkit Narang, Manan Sharma, Milind Kumar, Kulwant Khejroliya, Kunal Chandela.

 

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