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Face-off: Twist in the tale

The Delhi and Bengal players are yet to get over the shock following the turn of events in Lahore, but they have to concentrate on Wednesday's quarterfinal of the national one-day championship. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2009 00:16 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

The Delhi and Bengal players are yet to get over the shock following the turn of events in Lahore, but they have to concentrate on Wednesday's quarterfinal of the national one-day championship. The way the pitch behaved in Monday's match between Uttar Pradesh and Himachal was another source of concern.

Both captains were contemplating reinforcements in the spin department. Reflecting on his trip to Pakistan in 2003-04, Aakash Chopra said off-spinner Yogesh Nagar would return. Numbed by the attack on the Sri Lanka team, Laxmi Ratan Shukla later said off-spinner Ritam Kundu was also awaiting a recall.

The teams have been forced into other changes too. Delhi have replaced injured opener Shikhar Dhawan and Gaurav Chabra is likely to come in. Chopra said he was yet to decide who would partner him at the top or who would make room for Nagar.

The vacancy in Shukla's XI was created by Sourav Ganguly, who withdrew after the zonal games. Kundu is expected to take this slot keeping out either opener Abhishek Banerjee or middle-order bat Dibyendu Chakraborty.

Delhi have a score to settle, having lost to Bengal in the same stage of the competition last year. Chopra had reason to be upbeat, successfully chasing 305 against Railways on Saturday.

On the flip side, the absence of Dhawan is a concern because it makes Delhi's batting somewhat top-heavy where Chopra and Virat Kohli have scored a bulk of the runs.

Bengal have the resources to test the Delhi batsmen if Ranadeb Bose or Ashok Dinda get early breakthroughs. All-rounders Shukla and Avik Chowdhury can be effective on such pitches if they maintain the tight line they bowled in the zonal games.

Batting remains their problem and although the top five scored moderately in the zonal games, the lower order didn't.

The Delhi attack is nowhere near the best in this tournament but Bengal are still in no position to feel good about it.

The captains will also remember that the toss might play a vital role because batting second wouldn't be easy if the strip to be used at Maharaja Bir Bikram Stadium on Wednesday behaves like the one used on Monday.

Mumbai face TN

Mumbai face Tamil Nadu in another quarterfinal at the Tripura Institute of Technology.

Mumbai have a depleted attack in the absence of Ramesh Powar and Avishkar Salvi, who are injured. Tamil Nadu have no fitness worries.