Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Formidable Punjab hosts depleted Delhi

Delhi's batting has proved to be its weakest link so far this season and it will find it tougher against Punjab in the absence of Shikhar Dhawan.

Shubman Gill was back among the runs for Punjab with a 100 in the last game against defending champion Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Punjab’s batting juggernaut is likely to continue when the the host takes on a severely-depleted Delhi in the fourth round of the Ranji Trophy championship, beginning at the PCA Stadium here on Friday.

Since Patiala hosts three of the four home games, Punjab would like to make its only appearance of the league here a fruitful one. Punjab’s batting has come good in all three matches. With Delhi without pacers Ishant Sharma, Navdeep Saini and Pawan Suyal, the host will eye a win similar to the 10-wicket triumph it posted last November.

The gulf between the two teams this season is aptly reflected on the points table. Outright wins over Rajasthan and Andhra, followed by three points against two-time defending champion Vidarbha, have placed Punjab in pole position. With 17 points, Punjab is 10 ahead of Delhi.

READ | Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Andhra test for beleaguered Rajasthan

The only time Punjab was bowled out this season, against Rajasthan, it scored 358. Thereafter, Punjab crossed 400 when it batted once against Andhra and Vidarbha. This was mainly due to skipper Mandeep Singh (385 runs including a double century, a century and a half-century), Gurkeerat Singh Mann (222, one century), Anmol Malhotra (156, two half-centuries) and Shubman Gill (148 runs, one century).

Among the bowlers, leg-spinner Mayank Markande (11 wickets) is leading the charge. Medium pace of Sanvir Singh and Baltej Singh along with the off-spin of Gurkeerat Singh Mann have resulted in seven wickets for each bowler.

Pitch report

According to Delhi coach K. P. Bhaskar, the pitch did not appear to be in favour of the medium pacers. “So, at the moment, I don’t think the absence of our main bowlers will hit us badly. Yes, our bowling resources are not the same but we will fight. Three points from this match will satisfy us.”

With inadequacies galore, Delhi crossed 300 just once this season. Among the batsmen, with Shikhar Dhawan away on National duty, opener Kunal Chandela, skipper Dhruv Shorey and Nitish Rana are expected to shoulder the responsibility of playing long innings.

Medium-pacer Simarjeet Singh (10 wickets) and left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra will have to play a big role for Delhi to survive. Overall, Punjab expects more from this game than Delhi.

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