Delhi bank on ‘Big Two’ to pack another punch

NEW DELHI :  Riding on their opening win against Saurashtra, Delhi would be banking on skipper Gautam Gambhir and the explosive Virender Sehwag to pack a punch together against Rajasthan in their second Ranji Trophy Group B cricket match at the Feroz Shah Kotla starting here tomorrow.
Courtesy a brilliant 147 from Gambhir, Delhi outplayed Saurashtra by 9 wickets in the four-day game at the Roshanara Club Ground but failed to gather a bonus point after losing a wicket in their 16-run chase.
Delhi would like to continue the winning momentum on their home ground especially after getting their tuning right in their first outing.
Not only Gambhir but many in the batting line-up contributed to the big score that they put up against Saurashtra. Sehwag was unlucky to be run out for 9 but the veteran batsman did show flashes of his brilliance in the two boundaries that he hit in his brief stay.
Half-centuries from lower-order batsmen, Parvinder Awana and Sumit Narwal were also heartening for a side looking to win its eighth Ranji title.
Delhi would also be boosted by the return of fit-again veteran batsman Mithun Manhas in place of Vaibhav Rawal.
The new-ball bowlers, Narwal and Awana, also made it count with the ball alongwith Rajat Bhatia and the trio shared three wickets apiece.
But the star-studded side is well aware that ‘tomorrow is another day’ and ‘well begun is just half done’ before their game against a formidable Rajasthan side.
Rajasthan might not have the cushion of six points, like Delhi, but the Pankaj Singh-led side did prove a point against the same opposition that Gambhir and company tamed in their last game.
Playing at their home ground, the Sawai Man Singh
stadium, Rajasthan also batted well to post 400 plus with opener Vineet Saxena and Ashok Maneria scoring impressive centuries.
They even made the opposition follow-on but Saurashtra batted well enough in the second innings to get a point and allow the hosts bag three points.
The team also boasts of a strong pace attack in Pankaj and Deepak Chahar and a good back-up in Manjeet Singh and Shailendra Gehot. Maneria with his left-arm spin can also be an added force.
But the same side seemed to struggle when it ran against a better-looking Gujarat in their first game at the same venue.
This time the situation was reversed and Rajasthan were left getting a single point, while the Parthiv Patel-led Gujarat bagged three.
But Pankaj and company quickly learnt from their mistakes in the second game and would surely be looking for an improved performance against Delhi in their third outing.
So Delhi might just be the home favourites, but only on paper. The game is always fought on the field and Kotla will provide a perfect opportunity to settle scores for two good sides in the ‘Elite Group.’
The weather is the only factor that can play villain in this clash as Delhi is going through peak winter season and early morning fogs that run well into afternoons can play spoiler in the four-day encounter. (AGENCIES)


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