The first day of the Ranji Trophy Super League match at Eden Gardens was about three medium-pacers. And two of them did not play.
Delhi’s Ashish Nehra did not even turn up for the match on a wicket that has something for fast bowlers. This is a match the visitors are looking to win outright for a good chance to finish among top three in the group and qualify for the quarter-finals.
“Till yesterday we thought Ashish was coming. Then, captain Mithun Manhas informed the he was not. last I heard he has gone to Mumbai for some reason. Now that we have seen the wicket here we will miss him badly. With a bowler of his experience and ability, we would have been much better of. We could struggle to find the right support for (Parvinder) Awana from the other end,” said a Delhi team official who didn’t want to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Chairman of selectors Chetan Chauhan gave the official version from Delhi. “Ashish (Nehra) informed us yesterday that he has blisters on his toe and won’t be able to play,” he said. So, on Tuesday Delhi flew in Joginder Singh as his replacement.
The last time a big name skipped a match against Bengal, when they were battling relegation, was leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani who had accompanied the Madhya Pradesh squad in 2004-05 but chose not to play without really specifying why.
Leg-spinner Abhishek Sharma accompanied Singh as replacement for left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra who, as reported earlier by HT, “has a stone in his bladder” and had to be rushed home on Monday evening.
The other medium-pacer who did not figure in the match was Ranadeb Bose, who was dropped for the first time for a four-day match since he became their spearhead in 2003. Bose has been struggling for wickets since last season and the Bengal thinktank decided to leave him out.
Dinda gets going
The one made the difference for Bengal was Ashok Dinda. His day’s haul of four wickets for 55 runs put him second behind Delhi’s Awana on the list of highest wicket-takers for this season’s Ranji Trophy. Awana has 26 wickets in five matches and Dinda now has 25 in his fifth match of the season.
Two partnerships — the first between Dhawan and Yogesh Nagar for 69 and the second between Kolkata Knight Riders’ allrounder Rajat Bhatia and wicketkeeper Punit Bisht worth 81 — took the visitors past the 250-run mark.