Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Delhi out to seek revenge against Kerala

Having suffered an upset in the last season, Delhi will hope to turn tables when it takes on Kerala in an Elite Ranji Trophy match at Thumba, starting Monday.

Kerala coach Dav Whatmore and skipper Sachin Baby oversee a training session. (File Photo)   -  AKHILESH KUMAR

It is the start of a long season, the grind for the prestigious Ranji Trophy well set to stretch the teams to the hilt through the next three months or so.

Kerala which has been through to the knockout stage of the premier championship over the last two years has raised hopes among the fans of the game here but still will has to put its best foot forward as it takes on Delhi at the St. Xavier’s stadium, Thumba, from Monday.

The encounter between the two teams last year was a thoroughly one-sided affair, with the home team completing an upset within three days.

And as the two sides come face-to-face in Elite Group A and B once again, the former champion should be on the lookout to seek its revenge having done well in the recent Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali tournaments.

Stars absent

With its established stars, Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma on national duty and Shikar Dhawan on the injured list, the Delhi side is led by experienced Dhruv Shorey and has in Nitish Rana, Hiten Dalal, Navdeep Saini, Pradeep Sangwan and Shivam Sharma – a sound nucleus that could spur the rest of the team in achieving its goal of a profitable start and full points.

The team, however, has had little time to prepare after the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament, which as the head coach, Bhaskar Pillay, mentioned on Sunday, but was quick to add that the young side under his charge was fully geared up for the four-day match. 

“ It is going to be a red soil wicket and I think Saini will be our best bet.”

Kerala sweats under Whatmore's watch

Kerala, in contrast, has been training at the same venue through the last 12 days, with chief coach Dav Whatmore having put the side through some strenuous preparation.

With Sanju Samson, inducted into the Indian side, and Rohan Prem, sidelined due to an injury, the home team looks to have lost some of its experience all of a sudden but should be hoping to make it up through Robin Uthappa and Jalaj Saxena, its professional players, alongside with the likes of Vishnu Vinod, Sandeep Warrier, Basil Thampi and the much improved K.M. Asif.

Speaking on behalf of the side, the team skipper Sachin Baby said the strategy of his side was to have a healthy start and progress further with quiet determination.

“Yet again, we have been pitted against some of the best teams in the country, but we are hopeful of making the knockout stage for a third time in a row.”

The teams:

Kerala (from): Sachin Baby (captain), Robin Uthappa, Jalaj Saxena, Vishnu Vinod, P. Rahul, Mohammed Azharudeen (wicket-keeper), Salman Nizar, Akshay Chandran, Sijomon Joseph, Sandeep Warrier, Basil Thampi, M.D. Nidheesh, K.M. Asif, S. Midhun, S.K. Monish.

Delhi (from): Dhruv Shorey (captain), Nitish Rana, Kunal Chandela, Anuj Rawat (wicket-keeper), Jonty Sidhu, Lalit Yadav, Shivam Sharma, Vikas Mishra, Tejas Baroka, Pradeep Sangwan, Navdeep Saini, Pawan Suyal, Kunwar Bidhuri, Hiten Dalal, Shivank Vashisth.

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