PLAYING TO STRENGTHS.
DEPRIVED of conducive wickets to unleash their fourpronged pace attack, Delhi have had their home advantage robbed by the curator at the Ferozeshah Kotla.
But going into Saturday's Group B Ranji Trophy encounter against last year's finalists Tamil Nadu, Delhi seem to have got their wish for a pitch that will help the seamers.
In what will be a crucial home match before Delhi play a couple of away games, a green wicket has been prepared and although it remains to be seen how much bounce can be extracted off the surface, it will surely be a battle of equals when Delhi and Tamil Nadu lock horns.
If Delhi have the firepower in the bowling department -- Parvinder Awana, Pawan Suyal, Sumit Narwal and Ashish Nehra/ Pradeep Sangwan -- Tamil Nadu have the batsmen in Abhinav Mukund, S Badrinath, Dinesh Karthik, Arun Karthik and Baba Aparajith to counter them.
The visitors' bowling, led by captain Lakshmipathy Balaji, too looks strong and if the wicket does provide some assistance, he wouldn't hesitate to win the toss and put the opposition in.
Delhi's batting will once again bank on the likes of skipper Shikhar Dhawan, Unmukt Chand, Mohit Sharma, seasoned campaigner Mithun Manhas and ' go- to man' Rajat Bhatia.
Nehra's fitness is a concern for the Delhi management and although he bowled only six overs in the last match against Baroda, everyone knows what a fully fit Nehra can bring to the attack.
Chief coach Vijay Dahiya said that a final call on the left- arm pacer was yet to be taken. " He is 90 per cent match fit and we will have a meeting with him. We don't want to rush things and risk him for the rest of the season.
If he isn't fit, we have Sangwan as his replacement," Dahiya said.
Tamil Nadu, meanwhile, will miss the services of opener Murali Vijay, who is with the national squad for the ongoing second Test in Mumbai.
Both teams have eight points from three matches and although Delhi are placed second on the points table thanks to a better run- rate, they can't take anything for granted against the well- balanced Tamil Nadu outfit.
While Delhi's Ranji campaign started off on a dismal note with a loss to Uttar Pradesh, things looked to have fallen into place after an outright win against Odisha. A defensive approach from Baroda in the last game ensured that they shared a point apiece.
Tamil Nadu also started on a disappointing note, but that was because rain washed off their game against Odisha -- a game from which they hoped to clinch maximum points.
Then Karnatake chased down their first innings score of 538/ 4 declared to bag three points. But their campaign was back on track when they beat Maharashtra by 104 runs.
If Nehra is unfit Sangwan will replace him
Boycott won't stop J&K
DESPITE the boycott of several key players, the Jammu and Kashmir team will go ahead with its Ranji Trophy match against Andhra, starting in Jammu on Saturday.
" In my career I have not seen players going on a boycott. It is unfortunate. It amounts to blackmailing. But we will go ahead with the match," team coach Bishan Singh Bedi said.
Nearly 18 players, including seven cricketers selected for the game, have written to Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association ( JKCA) president Farooq Abdullah asking him to " rectify wrongs committed in selection process." The letter reads: " We, the players of J& K Ranji Trophy, want to make you aware about the highhandedness of Mehboob Iqbal in the selection process despite him not being a selector. Our top players like Samiullah Beigh and Abid Nabi are being targeted despite their contribution to J& K cricket. We feel disheartened by the fact there is gross injustice going on in the selection process." The players alleged Iqbal interfered in selection matters and also accused Bedi of encouraging Iqbal and creating a regional rift in the squad. Mail Today
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