“Beaten in all departments” is how Delhi skipper Mithun Manhas sums up the humiliation of being shot out by Gujarat by an innings and 35 runs last week. But the way their next opposition, Tamil Nadu, are going about their business this Ranji Trophy season, the hosts at Ferozshah Kotla should be up for a bigger challenge starting today.
Hopeful of playing
Ashish Nehra might play is the buzz, and Manhas believes it too. Nehra did join the Delhi nets, even if that was nearly one-and-half hours after the rest of the team had started training. Prolonged stretching, about an hour's bowling followed by fielding practice, the left-arm seamer did just about everything in proportion. "I'm confident that he'll play, which is definitely going to bolster our attack," said the skipper. But not everyone is convinced. "It's still very unlikely that he'll (Nehra) want to stretch his body in a four-day affair," said a Delhi & District Cricket Association official, on condition of anonymity.
"Even if he does, it'll be interesting to see how long, and how many spells, he'll bowl." If Nehra actually takes the field, it'll be after nearly three years that he'll play in the longer version of the game. And the tinge of green at the centre of the Kotla might just encourage him to make a 'comeback'.
High on confidence
Tamil Nadu nearly achieved a 146-run target in 13 overs in a scintillating run chase against Haryana, falling short by five runs in the end to settle for a draw. That confidence showed in stand-in skipper Lakshmipathy Balaji.
At this level, everyone knows what to expect and what to do," said the former India paceman, who is not too concerned what the opposition might be planning. “I have a played a lot at the Kotla, so the conditions aren't new to me," he added.
The absence of skipper S Badrinath due to injury isn't worrying him too much. "This is the time for someone else to stand up and get noticed."
Against a line-up that has in-form batsmen Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund and Dinesh Karthik, Delhi bowlers will hope they can rattle them before they dig in. As for his batsmen, Manhas will be praying they curb their natural instincts to go for too many shots.