It has been just one week into the Vijay Merchant Trophy, but two-time defending national champions, Delhi U-16, are already in a big mess. They almost missed their first game as the team was finalised just a day before the match was to begin in Patiala. Worse, after two games, where they conceded points, 11 players have already been replaced.
The team, named on the evening of November 30, was sent to the venue from Delhi by bus and reached well after midnight, a few hours before the match was to begin on December 1. "Thankfully, we had the bus at our disposal at the last moment," said Pradeep Kashyap, the team manager.
The delay happened as the DDCA couldn't receive the age-determination results from Apollo Hospital in time. "We got the results a day before the game," said Sneh Bansal, the DDCA general secretary.
"Initially, Apollo Hospital was reluctant to conduct the tests as they had to face irate parents following the tests for U-19 and U-22 players. But, we still got them to conduct it. Somehow, even that got delayed as someone or the other (doctors) was on leave."
After Delhi returned from Patiala, four players were replaced and, on Friday, a day after they conceded points to Himachal, seven players were axed. CK Khanna, the stand-in convenor of U-16 selection, didn't speak on the matter while Robin Singh junior, the chief selector, wasn't available for comment.
Interestingly, 80 players were short-listed in June-July by Vinay Lamba and Suresh Luthra for the camp. "I can't exactly recall but they brought in some more players to the camp," said Luthra, who then moved on to work with the senior team for the Ranji Trophy.
After adding to the list, DDCA reduced the numbers. Surprisingly, the age determination tests were done for as many as 70 players. It cost the DDCA nearly Rs 10 lakh.