There is not much in common between Delhi and Haryana except for the fact that they are neighbours. The only other thing that probably brings the two teams together at the fag end of the Ranji Trophy Super League stage is that they are still battling the threat of relegation.
Though Delhi and Haryana — with eight and seven points respectively — have an advantage over the two bottom-placed teams (with four points each), their eyes would firmly be set on the outcome of other two matches —UP-Andhra at Kanpur and Tamil Nadu-Baroda at Chennai. In case both UP and Tamil Nadu manage a win, then one of the teams here would be consigned to the Plate Group for the next season.
And for such a high-voltage contest, though Lahli — about 16 km from Rohtak — may be a strange venue, but with the ground having produced two results in two matches this season, the venue promises a lot of excitement over the next four days. The locals are excited by the presence of the Delhi stars — Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Ashish Nehra.
Joginder Sharma, who has created waves with his all-round performance this season, will lead Haryana.
Delhi will go into the match without their two young finds of the season, Ishant Sharma and Virat Kohli, both of whom have been selected for the India U-19 tour of New Zealand. On the positive side, they get back experienced players like Sehwag, Gambhir and Nehra.
It would not be easy for Delhi to compensate for the absence of Ishant, whose 29 wickets this season have been instrumental in saving Delhi from embarrassment on a number of occasions. Given the conditions here, where the ball generally moves throughout the day, his absence is not good news for the visitors.
The match is the last opportunity for all India contenders to impress the selectors ahead of two important one-day series.
“I have always been aiming for a place in the Indian team, and hope to find a place in the team on the basis of my performance this season,” Joginder said.
The situation is similar for Delhi speedster Nehra, who is staging a return after a long injury lay-off. Though Nehra has not got any help as far as pitches are concerned, he still has bowled long spells in the first five matches to prove his fitness.
And finally, Sehwag will only have one agenda on his mind: after a disastrous South Africa tour, he would be eager to come up with a good knock to restore his shaken confidence, before the start of the one-day series against Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
Haryana (from): Joginder Sharma (captain), Amit Mishra, Sumit Sharma, Nitin Saini, Ankit Rawat, Deepak Joon, Sachin Rana, Mahesh Rawat (wk), Sandeep Singh, Gaurav Vashist, Sanjay Badhwar, Tejinder Mann, Sanjay Bamal, Rahul Rathee, Jiterder Billa.
Delhi (from): Virender Sehwag (captain), Mithun Manhas, Gautam Gambhir, Ashish Nehra, Aakash Chopra, Shikhar Dhawan, Mayank Tehlan, Puneet Bisht, Rajat Bhatia, Amit Bhandari, Ashish Malhotra, Abhishek Sharma, Chetnya Nanda, Aditya Jain, Abhinav Bali.