Ever since Yash Dhull arrived at the centre stage of Indian cricket, his leadership quality has been duly noted.
From leading India to the Under-19 World Cup title in 2021 to captaining Delhi in domestic cricket, Dhull has been managing his players well.
And now, the 20-year-old has led Delhi to the semifinals of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where it will face local favourite Punjab here at the PCA IS Bindra Stadium on Saturday.
Dhull has not only been a tremendous captain on the field but has made sure he is also leading from the front, contributing 202 runs in six games at a strike rate of 131.36 and an average of over 50. He’s the second highest run-scorer in his team, after opener Priyansh Arya, who has 209.
But for Delhi, it has been Suyash Sharma’s impressive run this year, that began in IPL 2023 in his debut season with Kolkata Knight Riders, which has kept the team unbeaten in all six games of the tournament. The leg-spinner is the second highest wicket-taker, with 16 scalps at an average of 5.75 and an economy rate of 3.83.
It will take someone like Abhishek Sharma to counterattack Delhi’s bowling. With 408 runs in eight outings, the Punjab opener is striking at 198.05, at an average of 51, in the tournament.
Abhishek’s consistent run-scoring has also allowed the rest of Punjab’s batters to follow a hard-hitting template. A case in point is the lower middle-order, comprising Anmolpreet Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Sanvir Singh, and Nehal Wadhera, helping Punjab get out of a tricky position to steal a quarterfinal win against Uttar Pradesh in a run-chase of 170.
The bowlers have done well for Punjab, with Harpreet Brar, Siddarth Kaul, and Mayank Markande consistently chipping in with wickets.
However, Arshdeep Singh has been underwhelming, taking six wickets in seven games and conceding 7.41 runs an over.
Delhi and Punjab have failed to reach the final of the prestigious tournament in the past five years. While Delhi last made it to the summit clash in the 2017-18 season, which also marked its solitary title win, Punjab last finished in the top-two in 2014-15.
On Saturday morning, the contest between Delhi’s bowlers and Punjab’s aggressive batters could decide which team gets closer to ending that streak.
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