After this, there will be no more home advantage — Delhi take on Karnataka in their last home match from Sunday, and the team will have to make the most of this Ranji Trophy season’s fourth game.
The hosts have made just one change in the 12 after the draw against Baroda, bringing in leggie Chetnya Nanda in place of Yogesh Sachdeva, again keeping former skipper Amit Bhandari deliberating over his position. Bhandari has been struggling to return to the playing XI for last two matches after declaring himself fully fit.
He has created a new headache for the Delhi team management because after some good shows by their three seam bowlers — Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma and Kunnal Lal — it would be not only difficult but impossible for both coach Chetan Chauhan and skipper Mithun Manhas to rehabilitate Bhandari at such crucial stage of the tournament.
And Bhandari seems to be getting desperate — on Saturday, he threatened Delhi team physio Badrinath that he could lose his job, because Badrinath had earlier declared him unfit in a report given to the DDCA before the first match.
Delhi are currently lying fourth in Group A with just six points from their first three outings. They are behind Baroda, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and anything less than an outright victory will make matters worse for them.
“There is no doubt that we will have to win at least one or two matches outright in order to qualify for the knockout stage. We just can’t carry on like this and would definitely try and take full points against Karnataka,” Manhas said on the eve of the match.
Though Manhas promised a different approach by his team over the next four days, he did not seem confident about the nature of the Kotla track. “This wicket looks better than the last three games, but even now it’s still not the one we wanted,” he said.
However, his Karnataka counterpart
Yere Goud termed the track a ‘heaven for the batsmen’. “This is a perfect batting track,” Goud said.
“We’re playing like a unit. The experienced players are making youngsters feel comfortable out in the middle, and that has started showing results,” Goud added.
The two youngsters to watch out for in the Karnataka team, middle-order batsman
B Chipli and left-arm spinner KP Appanna, have shown great potential. However, in the middle, the biggest factor could be how Sunil Joshi sets his team on track with his allround show.
If Joshi can again chip in with some crucial wickets at the right time, as he did against UP, Karnataka could well put the hosts in deep trouble.