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Delhi has its task cut out

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Delhi has a few issues to tackle. The inspired opposition, inclement weather and an uncertain pitch look a lethal combination and confront the home team with factors beyond their control on the eve of the Ranji Trophy superleague match against Gujarat here.

The pitch at the Ferozeshah Kotla had a tinge of green but not the kind that would motivate a fast bowler. Delhi skipper Mithun Manhas summed it up wisely when he said, “We got to utilize the pitch as we get. Gujarat has a good attack and I am expecting a good contest but we are happy with the overall form of the team. It is a crucial game and we need an outright win.”

Delhi has four points from two matches but Gujarat comes on the strength of a victory against Saurashtra and three points against Railways.

Skipper Parthiv Patel observed, “We have started the season well and are playing better as a team. Our strength is our seam attack. It looks a typical Kotla pitch and the grass is not likely to make much difference.”

The teams have their task cut out. Delhi can't afford to take Gujarat lightly since the latter has an incisive seam trio in Siddharth Trivedi, Ashraf Makda and Ishwar Choudhary, who played a major role in the win against Saurashtra. Of course, leg-spinner Salil Yadav too has bowled with purpose but Gujarat draws its strength from the seam attack.

Delhi enjoys a good seam pair in Pawan Suyal and Sumit Narwal even as it toys with the idea of including Pradeep Sangwan or rookie Kapil Yadav. Left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra will find himself saddled with lot of work as Delhi looks to rest off-spinner Manoj Chauhan.

“We have batted well,” remarked Manhas quite rightly. He has looked solid and Virat Kohli has made huge progress as a batsman to rely upon with back-to-back centuries against Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The encouraging form of Shikhar Dhawan would also motivate the home team.

Strokeplayer Unmukt Chand, set to make his debut, is considered “ready” for the big stage.

Curator Venkat Sundaram promised a “decent” pitch under the given circumstances even as he looked at the sky with apprehension. “Weather is not in my control,” he shrugged his shoulders. A small shower this afternoon proved a dampener for the home team which left the venue praying for bright sun over the next four days.

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