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Delhi Heights

india Updated: Jan 19, 2008 19:47 IST
Arjun Sen
Arjun Sen
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Most teams are built around one player, one player who is above the rest, one player who the rest of the team looks up to when the chips are down, one player who has the ability and talent to turn a game around. Most teams, however, don't win championships, very few do.

It takes more than just one player to win a title, it takes an entire team. Each and every member of a squad has a role to play in a success, prima donnas might catch the eye and look great doing what they do, but it's the foot soldiers that earn victory.

Perhaps, this has been the reason for Delhi's success this Ranji season, the equal contribution by each and every member of the squad at crucial junctures in the season. Delhi is a side brimming with big names, names that have proved themselves at the international cricket, names that have won games for their country.

But this season, these players were just names on a team sheet, they were all equals in a squad, everyone was playing for Delhi and that was all that mattered. No matter how big or small a player was, no matter how experienced or inexperienced he was, they gelled with each other, laughed with each other, played with each other and won with each other. Be it a Parwinder Awana or an Aakash Chopra, when on the field or off it, both were equals.

And possibly, it was this parity in the treatment that got this bunch playing together as a team. In each of the nine games Delhi played this season - including the final - there was at least one standout performance. It didn't seem to matter who produced the good, as long as the results kept coming.

It is said that every win is a team effort, but if ever there was one in the true sense of the term, it is this.

Every player has played a part, some small, some a little bigger, in this remarkable run to the top. Every match saw a hero emerge, one that got Delhi just that little bit closer to eventual glory. Hindustan Times T looks back at all those nine games and the men who made those games stepping-stones to success.

Game 1

vs Rajasthan

The season got off to the worst possible start. Playing at home, the famed Delhi batting was bundled for only 119 in the first innings. It looked like it would be yet another season of fighting relegation and controversy, with the team making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. But that wasn't how it panned out. The bowlers, led by the debutant, Pradeep Sangwan, struck back in style, wiping Rajasthan out for all of 85 and give Delhi a most unlikely first innings lead. Mithun Manhas and Virat Kohli scored centuries in the second innings to set a stiff target for the visitors. Rajasthan duly capitulated and Delhi won in style.

Stars of the show: Pradeep Sangwan. Though he did play the one-dayers last season, this was his first four-day game and he showed just why he was picked to the team at just 17. A new star was born.

Game 2

Vs Saurashtra

Delhi dropped points in this game, largely thanks to a superlative effort from Chetehwar Pujara in the second innings. The batting failed yet again in the first, but roared back in the second. Sparkling centuries from Aakash Chopra and Shikhar Dhawan ensured Saurashtra had a stiff target to chase. In the end, Delhi fell short just a wicket short of a win. Not that it mattered in the end, though.

Stars of the show: Chopra and Dhawan.

Two contrasting centuries from the openers saw Delhi seize the initiative and take a loss out of the equation. It was power hitting at its best from Dhawan and another display of technical brilliance from Chopra.

Game 3

Vs Mumbai

The big one. Up against the champions, this was Delhi's first real test this season. And they passed it rather comfortably. The pace duo of Sangwan and Ishant Sharma ran through Mumbai for 166, and the batsmen ensured Delhi had a first innings lead and three points to their name. Though Mumbai fough back, a peerless ton from Gautam Gambhir and an 81 from Chopra saw the game drawn and Delhi take the points.

Stars of the show: Chopra and Gambhir. The two big guns showed Mumbai who's boss.

Game 4

Vs Himachal Pradesh

The only blip this season. An inexplicable 75 all out saw Delhi concede the lead, but Chopra smacked a double ton in the second, while Gambhir scored a century to avoid defeat.

Stars of the show: Chopra and Gambhir. Do we need to say more?

Game 5

Vs Maharashtra

This is where the season turned around. Delhi went to the group leaders' home and beat them hollow. Remarkable show.

Stars of the show: Rajat Bhatia, Five wickets and a ton. Parwinder Awana for his hattrick.

Game 6

Vs Karnataka

Washed out, yet three centurions. Delhi's semi final chances looked in danger after this game.

Stars of the show: Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Mithun Manhas. All scored tons in the mammoth 538.

Game 7

Vs Tamil Nadu

Had to win this, and they did. All the batsmen chipped in, while Chetnya Nanda spun Delhi to victory with a fiver.

Star of the show: Chetnya Nanda

Semi final

Vs Baroda

Rather convincing win for Delhi. Amit Bhandari and Sumit Narwal got the wickets, while Manhas and Gambhir got the runs.

Stars of the show: Bhandari, Narwal, Manhas and Gambhir

Final

Vs Uttar Pradesh

Sangwan got a fiver, Chopra, Bhatia and Gambhir tons as Delhi produced a stirring fightback in the title decider.

Stars of the show: The entire team.