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Fit-again Nehra set to boost Delhi

Pacer Ashish Nehra seems to have regained his fitness and his experience will be a valuable addition to a fast bowling line-up of Delhi team in the Ranji Trophy, reports Arjun Sen.

cricket Updated: Sep 10, 2008 23:08 IST
Arjun Sen

The Ranji Trophy is around the proverbial corner and the defending champions have started working towards retaining their title. The players have been working hard at their maintaining fitness levels through the off-season, with a few playing club cricket in England, and most looked in good shape ahead of what should be a testing winter.

Delhi's first test of this season will be the Mohammad Nissar Trophy, in which they take on Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd, the winners of Pakistan's Qaid-E-Azam Trophy, at the Ferozeshah Kotla starting on September 15.

And while the players have been practising since a week now, on Wednesday they played their first, and only, practice match ahead of the tie.

Played among themselves, the 40-over game, quite understandably, lacked any real intensity and was effectively a chance for the players to get a feel of the wicket at the Kotla.

Most of the players were unanimous in their judgement of the track, which, in all probability, will be used in the game on the 15th. While one batsman thought it was "a typical Kotla patta wicket," although the fast bowlers might differ as the bounce was varied, with a few keeping dangerously low, while the carry to the 'keeper also wasn't too encouraging. "It was slow and had no pace," said a fast bowler.

"It was hard to get anything out of it."

The one fast bowler who got something out of the game was Ashish Nehra.

In what will be a great boost to the Delhi team for next season, Nehra looked in good shape and fitness, bowling nine overs in three spells.

Nehra, who made a comeback to competitive cricket with the IPL, did not turn out even once for Delhi last season.

However, the left-armer seems to have regained his fitness and his experience will be a valuable addition to a fast bowling line-up which boasts the precocious Ishant Sharma and the diligent Pradeep Sangwan.

With both Ishant and Sangwan missing out on Wednesday's practice match — Ishant was in Dubai for the ICC Awards, while Sangwan was down with the flu - it was an opportunity for Parwinder Awana and Sumit Narwal, to show coach Vijay Dahiya he could always fall back on them.

Asked about his first impressions after the match, Dahiya said: "All the players looked in prime fitness. Everyone was looking good."

Dahiya was happy to see Nehra in action too. "He is back to full fitness and looks fantastic."

All in all, a good outing ahead of the serious tests ahead.