Delhi face plucky Vidarbha in chase for eighth Ranji Trophy title
Delhi, in the Ranji Trophy title round after a decade, face a determined Vidarbha who eliminated a formidable Karnataka in the semis.cricket Updated: Dec 28, 2017 20:51 IST
Former champions Delhi will be on guard when they take on a gutsy Vidarbha eyeing their maiden title in the Ranji Trophy final starting at Indore’s Holkar stadium on Friday.
Delhi are in their first final for a decade, but would have been warned after Vidarbha overcame eight-time winners Karnataka, defending just 198 and winning by five runs.
While seven-time champions Delhi will be expected to hold the edge, it’ll be a test of character for Vidarbha, who must ensure first-time jitters don’t wreck their hopes in the final of the biggest domestic tournament.
Vidarbha top order
One of the major reasons Vidarbha have been unstoppable this Ranji season is their top three batsmen.
Captain and left-handed opener Faiz Fazal, who has been playing first-class cricket for more than 14 years, has hit 843 runs in eight games at 76.63 with five centuries this season.
Opener Sanjay Ramaswamy has absorbed the pressure well and played sensibly. The 22-year-old batsman is Vidarbha’s second highest run-getter, and fifth highest overall this season, with 735 runs in eight games at 66.81 with three centuries and two half-centuries.
Former India opener Wasim Jaffer, who joined Vidarbha as ‘player-cum-mentor’ in 2015, too has been brilliant at No. 3, scoring 500 runs in eight games at 50.00 with a century.
In the bowling department, Rajneesh Gurbani has led the charge with 31 wickets in five matches. The 24-year-old pace bowler took seven wickets in the thrilling five-run win over Karnataka. He was adjudged the Man-of-the-Match for his match figures of 12/162. It was his fourth five-wicket haul on the trot.
Vidarbha coach Chandrakant Pandit hopes the likes of Gurbani and Ramaswamy can guide their team to a memorable win. “I’m very happy for the younger boys who have shown the courage to fight. Let’s hope they create history and go on to play for India,” the former India player told Hindustan Times.
Gambhir key, Pant needs runs
Seasoned campaigner Gautam Gambhir and Nitish Rana will hold the key to Delhi’s chances. It’ll be interesting to see how Delhi’s top two run-scorers (Gambhir 632 and Rana 528) deal with Gurbani.
Pace bowler Navdeep Saini and left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra have claimed a bucketful of wickets (61) in Delhi’s progress to the Ranji Trophy final and will look to seal the deal for their side.
Delhi’s only concern will be the form of captain Rishabh Pant, who has managed only one fifty plus score in six games.
But Delhi coach KP Bhaskar feels Pant, who created a buzz in Indian cricket with his explosive batting last season, is just a knock away from striking form.
“He (Pant) hasn’t had a good season except for the 99 he got against Maharashtra. But he has chipped in with 30s, 40s. Hopefully, he’ll play a big knock in the final,” Bhaskar told reporters.
“Teams have assessed him well (after his blistering show last season). He’s a natural player, likes to play big shots. I haven’t asked him to curb his natural instinct.”