When Delhi and Bengal took the field for Monday morning's nets session, two players, both absent, were the topic of most discussions. Delhi's Ashish Nehra and Bengal's Manoj Tiwary.
Nehra was yet to touch down in the city for the Ranji Trophy Super League match at the Eden even though the Delhi camp was confident he would be there when proceedings start on Tuesday. He had done the same when Delhi played Madhya Pradesh in Indore in their last match, which they lost outright. That reversal however has made full points from this match crucial to Delhi's quarter-final chances.
The left-arm medium-pacer fell out of favour with the national selectors after the World Cup group league match against South Africa and even though he had played the semi-final against Pakistan, he picked up an injury to miss the final and has not been recalled since.
He remains Delhi's pace spearhead and on a green top which Bengal have opted for in search of an elusive outright win that could save them relegation, the 32-year-old and young right-arm pacer Parvinder Awana would be keen to bowl.The overcast, misty conditions could further tilt the balance in the bowlers' favour and both teams are likely to go in with three pacers. When batting, playing out the new ball and the morning sessions will be topmost on the minds of both teams.
The other man, Tiwary, was on way to the city from Chennai. He had left the squad for national duty after the second match of the season against Madhya Pradesh. He was Bengal's captain then.
Now when he catches up with his boys with Bengal having played two more matches in his absence and their position in the group having nose-dived from fourth to the bottom of the table, Tiwary with a maiden One-day International century to his name is surely a transformed batsman. But he is no longer the captain. He however remains Bengal's best bat in the season, having scored 399 runs in just two matches with an average of 199.5.
Delhi have recalled middle-order batsman Mayank Tehlan and he is likely to replace Milind Kumar in the 11.
For Bengal, whose performance has deteriorated with every match mainly because of their fragile batting, two changes in the 11 seemed obvious. Injured Rohan Banerjee is likely to make way for fellow opener Subhomoy Das, who could now be given the role of bolstering the middle order. Tiwary will come in for Abhishek Jhunjhunwala.
The other aspect that has let hosts down is their catching. A lot of time was spent on Monday on fielding drills where skipper Sourav Ganguly gave his teammates valuable practice.Late start
The murky conditions in the morning forced match referee Chinmaya Sharma to announce that day's play would begin at 9.15 am instead of the usual 9 am start. This could result in some overs being lost in the match because dusk sets in quickly in this part of the country. Moreover, medium-pacers are likely to do the bulk of the bowling which will affect the over rate.